For 2012-13, India’s cardamom production declined 6.7 per cent to 14,000 tonnes, compared with 15,000 tonnes in the previous year, primarily due to a severe drought in Kerala’s Idukki region. This resulted in severe financial stress for farmers, who also had to bear the suspension of auctions in September and October last year. Despite lower production, the prices crashed in the last five months, as the country imported substantial quantities of cardamom from countries such as Guatemala, which supplied low-quality cardamom at lower prices. For this financial year, cardamom production is likely to decline due to heavy rains in major producing regions in Kerala during June, July and August.
“The farmers are in much bigger distress this year. After facing drought last year, they are in for a rude shock due to heavy monsoon rains. The application of inputs was lower this year. Besides, the import of cheap-quality cardamom from Guatemala has affected prices in the country,” said a member of United Planters’ Association of South India.
During 2012-13, cardamom imports into India increased a whopping 9.7 times to 495 tonnes, compared to 51 tonnes in the previous year. India imports cardamom from Guatemala, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates among others.
Cardamom is predominantly grown in Kerala, which contributes to 81 per cent of the country’s total production and followed by Karnataka. Generally, harvesting of cardamom starts from July every year. The cardamom plant requires summer showers for new offshoots to grow, resulting in new pods.
“The heavy rains in key producing areas of Kerala early this month have washed away hopes of a bumper crop, with traders now expecting production of the spice to be around 30 per cent lower in 2013-14, which shall have a bearing on price realisation,” Upasi said.
During 2012-13, the auction prices rose 7.4 per cent to Rs 693 per kg, compared to Rs 645 per kg in the previous year. However, between August 1 and 19, the prices have declined 20 per cent to Rs 616 per kg as against Rs 767 per kg in the corresponding period last year.
India’s exports declined 52 per cent to 2,250 tonnes valued at Rs 185 crore in 2012-13 compared to 4,650 tonnes valued at Rs 363 crore in the previous year. However, the exports have shown an encouraging trend in the first quarter of the current financial year ended June 2013.
During the period, exports have gone up 155 per cent to 505 tonnes valued at Rs 42 crore as against 198 tonnes valued at Rs 18 crore in the previous year. The unit value realisation was however down seven per cent to Rs 823 per kg from Rs 887 per kg in the same period last year.