A sharp fall in cardamom prices during the peak harvesting season has badly hit growers. As the supply to the market increased heavily due to a good carryover stock and increased fresh harvest, the average price dropped to Rs 500-525 a kg, the lowest in the last 24 months.
Growers are now demanding a floor price for the spice to be fixed soon.
Due to better climatic conditions, production was higher this time and 30 tonnes was coming daily to the various auction centres in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This, coupled with panic selling of old stock by growers, increased the supply heavily. Hence, the current fall in prices. During this period last year, the average price was Rs 1,020 a kg.
This season, harvesting had started early due to summer showers and is in full swing now. This supply situation is fully exploited by the middle men and traders at auction centres. Since the last three-four weeks traders are collecting cardamom at very low prices.
Growers are now demanding the announcement of a floor price for cardamom at Rs 1,500 a kg. Last week, the Cardamom Growers Sangh had staged a dharna in front of the Spices Park at Puttady in Idukki district.
They alleged that it was the wrong propaganda of the Spices Board to mislead farmers that cardamom would breach Rs 2,000 a kg, leading to large scale stocking.
Reji Njallani, a leader of the Sangh, said as the farmers do not have good storage facility they are forced to get rid off the stock. He also alleged that the warehousing facility at Spices Park was not working well and growers do not benefit out of it.
As more fresh stock is coming to the market and the season is in full swing, the market is poised for a further drop in prices.
The harvesting is on without a break in this year. This is due to the good summer showers which made possible early harvesting.
A drop in exports also caused an increase in the local supply. According to the Spices Board, export of small cardamom in 2010-11 fell to 1,175 tonnes from 1,975 tones in the previous year. Export of large cardamom also dropped to 775 tonnes from 1,000 tonnes in 2009-10.