Sustained dryness makes Indian cardamom costly

PRICES of cardamom in the Indian market have started firming due to predictions of a 30% drop in output during the current season following severe drought.

Traders said the prolonged dry spell in Kerala’s Idukki and Wayanad districts earlier in the season has caused partial withering of the buds, and crop quality was likely to be compromised.

Although there were a few showers in April, they have not compensated for the earlier dryness.

“Water levels in the existing check dams, for irrigating around 10,000 hectares under cardamom in Vandanmeedu, Chakkupallam, Pooppara and Kattapana area, have been far lower than normal, and irrigation has been affected adversely, ” said Ashok Kumar, president of the Kerala Cardamom Growers’ Union.

Irrigated areas contribute around 75% of the total production, with non-irrigated areas contributing the rest. Production from the latter area is down by 25% to 30%.

“Cardamom needs at least one shower every month, but there has been no rain since November, ” said Mr Kumar. “The total output during the current season is therefore expected to be less by 30%.” Average prices have crossed Rs420 ($10) a kg, with 8mm bold capsules hovering near Rs500 a kg.

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