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Good demand fetches fair price for cardamom at e-auction

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Fluctuating fortunes: Workers grading cardamom at a warehouse at Vandanmedu in Idukki district.
Fluctuating fortunes: Workers grading cardamom at a warehouse at Vandanmedu in Idukki district.

Gigi K. Raman

Export orders have not reached the expected level yet

KATTAPPANA: Even as the harvesting season comes to an end, increase in domestic demand has helped in stabilising the prices of cardamom. The produce is highly volatile to price fluctuations depending on the demand in foreign markets.

Though it was expected that there would be an increase in demand in foreign markets this season, a senior official in the Spices Board in Kochi told The Hindu that export orders have not reached the expected level yet. “Cardamom from Guatemala is in demand in the international market and we could not compete with them,” he said.

However, demand from North India has increased as a result of a sustained campaign, he said, adding that there is good demand for value-added products and branded varieties of cardamom essence. The data on total domestic demand and export orders received this season will be released next week, he said.

The e-auction introduced at Vandanmedu last year also helped in stabilising the prices after a long period, ensuring transparency and privacy in the prices quoted by traders. Though the traders initially objected to e-auctioning, it resulted in a healthy competition among them and ensured remunerative price to the farmers.

In the manual auctioning, there were allegations that traders formed a cartel to keep the prices low, especially during the harvesting season. “With the introduction of high yielding varieties of plants, cardamom is harvested almost throughout the year and by saving it from price fluctuations, farmers have been highly benefited. Moreover, more fragmented areas in the high ranges have come under cardamom cultivation,” said Rajan Sathvi, official of a cardamom auction unit at Vandanmedu.

The highest, average and lowest prices quoted this week at the Cardamom Auction Centre in Vandanmedu was Rs 686, Rs 570 and Rs 402 respectively. Last week, they were Rs 745, Rs 608 and Rs 202. The price of cardamom is decided by its colour, shape and smell which are determined by various factors such as the climate, the soil condition and timely pest control measures adopted on the crop.

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