Strong internal and exporter interest lifts Indian cardamom

INDIAN cardamom prices continued their upward swing during the week at auctions held in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, despite better arrivals, on good buying support.

In Bodinayakannur, 14.53 tonnes of the commodity arrived, of which 13.97 tonnes were sold. The price range for the best 8mm bold variety was Rs425 ($10.65) to Rs549 a kg, while the minimum registered was Rs195 to Rs250 a kg. The average price was Rs396.66 a kg; and the good green colour current bulk fetched Rs440 to Rs450 a kg.

Prices at the auction held in Kumily by the Cardamom Processing and Marketing Company (CPMC) showed an increase of Rs10 to Rs20 a kg from that of the previous auction. Total arrivals during the week stood at 127 tonnes, of which 121 tonnes were sold, and there were hardly any withdrawals. The individual auction average price ranged from Rs392 to Rs410 a kg.

“There is active buying by upcountry buyers, ” said PC Punnoose, general manager at CPMC.

“Exporters have also been active, with orders coming mainly from Saudi Arabia. Buyers have been actively covering to meet demand for the ensuing festival season.” Heavy damage to the crop may have seen prices appreciate by between 10% and 15% over the past month, but farmers in Kerala believe that the rise may not help them much as they have little to sell.

“Extreme summer weather during the April to May season damaged the plantations badly, and then there were unprecedented rains and storms during the June to August period, the main harvest season, ” said KK Devassia, general secretary of the Cardamom Growers’ Association (CGA).

It was initially feared that up to 20% of the crop may have been damaged, but the CGA had to revise its estimates after the crop was affected by a fungus outbreak that completely destroyed some plants.

“We now think 35% to 40% of the production would be unsalvageable, ” said Mr Devassia. “The damage is most severe in areas like Vandanmeedu, Anavilasam, Sasthanada and Nedunkandam of the Idukki district, where the cultivation of cardamom is widespread and intensive.” Weather conditions have improved in the past two weeks, and picking is in full swing.

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