Cardamom farmers expect prices to improve as auctions resume on Tuesday after a gap of more than 20 days. Auctions have been stalled since December 5 following the Kerala-Tamil Nadu standoff over Mullaperiyar dam.

A grower told this correspondent that he expected firm export orders for the late December and early January period to shore up cardamom price. Fifty tonnes of cardamom will be up for sale by South India Green Cardamom Company on Tuesday at the Puttady Spices Park, Idukki. Two auctions held on December 5 saw the average cardamom price hovering above Rs.450 a kg. At the STCL auction on the day at Kumali, cardamom fetched a maximum of Rs.622.50 a kg. The average price was Rs.455.80 a kg. At the Cardamom Planters' Association auction at Santhapara, the maximum price was Rs.717 a kg while the average price was Rs.472.12 a kg. A total of 73,808 kg was sold on the day at the two auctions. Meanwhile, cardamom growers have sought price stability fund recommended by the Swaminathan Foundation in a package that recommended measures to mitigate agrarian distress in Idukki district.

C. A. Scariah of Cardamom Growers' Association, Vandamettu, told this correspondent on Monday that the average price of cardamom hovered around Rs.450 a kg this year. It was Rs.1,400 last year. Falling price and the stalling of auctions had affected the farmers, he said.

According to him, cardamom farmers needed at least Rs. 800 a kg for their produce considering the spiralling cost of labour and inputs such as pesticides. Mr. Scariah said that the association submitted a memorandum to the Union Commerce Ministry seeking the formation of a corpus for cardamom price stability. If operationalised through the Spices Board, it would be possible to hold up the prices, he said.