The mood of coffee growers is upbeat despite the prices of coffee plummeting and that is because pepper prices have gone up. Pepper is cultivated by a majority of coffee growers as an inter-crop.

The price of pepper crossed Rs. 400 a kg on Wednesday perhaps for the first time in all these years. The price stood at Rs. 410 a kg at one point on Wednesday. On Thursday, the price was between Rs. 390 to Rs. 400 per kg.

“This is the highest price ever seen”, said Satyanarayana, a trader in Sakleshpur. The reasons for the increase in pepper prices are many. The dip in yield in Karnataka and Kerala is attributed to the fact that the crop was affected by root wilt disease. The yield has come down in Vietnam as well. On the other hand, demand is constantly increasing.

Planters who were disappointed with dip in coffee prices are finding solace in the fact that pepper prices have gone up. Price of coffee headed south in the last two months: from Rs. 10,800 to Rs 8,300 for a 50-kg bag. “I had expected that pepper prices would go up this time. I chose to do the harvesting myself instead of handing over the work to middlemen”, B.A. Jagannath, a planter of Ballupet in Sakleshpur, said.

Growers maintain that they would have got better profit had the crop been good.