: Continuing its upward march, the price of black pepper scaled a new high for the decade at Rs.292 per kg in the wholesale market in Idukki district.

Ungarbled pepper touched Rs.284 a kg while the garbled variety closed at Rs.292 per kg on Monday and traders attributed supply shortage for the firming up of the price. The previous highest pepper price was Rs.275 a kg recorded on November 1, 1999, the traders said. “If this trend continues, the price will soon touch Rs.300 per kg very soon,” they said. Predictions of a slump in production this year by speculators was a reason for the jump. In Kerala, pepper is mainly cultivated in Idukki and Wayanad districts but farmers, of late, had been turning to other cash crops such as rubber, cloves, and cardamom owing to the non-remunerative prices of pepper for the past several years.

The price was only Rs.161.17 per kg a year ago. The area of cultivation had dropped steeply in the State from 2,37,998 ha. in 2005 to 1,72,764 ha. — PTI