Kerala

With no auction, cardamom piles up

Cardamom being graded at a unit at Kumily in Idukki district.

Cardamom being graded at a unit at Kumily in Idukki district.  

Sector faces uncertainty as crop prices are decided at auctions

The cardamom sector is facing a deadlock in the absence of auctions, with the main buyers in Mumbai abstaining from taking new orders for nearly a month. The produce is held up with farmers and small-scale traders, K.S. Mathew, director, Vandanmedu Green Gold Cardamom Producer Co. Ltd., told The Hindu on Friday.

There are 12 auctioneers at the Spices Park at Puttady under the Spices Board of India. As per the licensing agreement, the auctioneer has to pay the farmer the price of cardamom within 10 days of the auction. The traders and industrial units that purchase the produce have to pay the auctioneer the price within 21 days. The mechanism was going on unhindered with the daily auctions, he said.

Cardamom’s price is decided at the auctions, without which there is total uncertainty. The price would be known only when the auctions restart, Mr. Mathew said.

Last price

It is estimated that the traders have to pay the auctioneers more than ₹200 crore for the last two to four consignments in the auctions. When the auctions were stopped following the COVID-19 scare the price was at ₹3,500 per kg.

Marketing sources said prices could dip as the next crop, predicted to be a bumper one, is set to arrive in the market by June/July, and a major quantity produced in the last season has remained unsold. Moreover, the crop’s export prospects will depend on the stance of Saudi Arabia, the main buyer, sources said.

No buyers

The last harvesting season witnessed the highest ever prices quoted in the auctions, reaching up to ₹9,000 per kg.

The absence of trading has affected not only the plantations but also small-scale farmers. Lalichan, a farmer in Peerumade, said there were no buyers with small-scale hill produce merchants ceasing to buy cardamom. A trader had agreed to take the produce without making payment now. A meagre price was offered.

“How can one sell the produce without knowing the price and without being paid,” he added.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 8:09:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/with-no-auction-cardamom-piles-up/article31252571.ece

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