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Pepper prices move up

G.K. Nair

KOCHI, Sept. 17

PEPPER prices continue to maintain its upward trend with spot prices moving up by Rs 300 and futures by Rs 475 to Rs 670 per quintal, despite imports from Sri Lanka.

The spot prices at the terminal market on Tuesday were MG 1 garbled Rs 10,100 and ungarbled Rs 9,700 as against Rs 9,800 and Rs 9,400 during the weekend.

The futures prices are also moving up. The October price was on Tuesday Rs 10,490 as against Rs 10,000 last Saturday. November Rs 10,450 (Rs 10,000), December Rs 10,600 (Rs 10,125), January Rs 10,500 (Rs 10,040), Februrary 10,550 (Rs Rs 10,040) and March Rs 10,710 (Rs 10,040)

Attributing the increase in price to good North Indian demand, Mr Kishor Shamji, President, India Pepper and Spice Trace Association, said there were speculative as well as genuine demand. There was a general feeling about a decline in production in the country and a consequent rise in prices. As a result, many domestic operators in Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Kolkata are active in the futures market. After buying good quantity of pepper in the past weeks, they are now pushing the prices up. On the other hand, this domestic buying pressure, especially in Mumbai, has activated market in Sri Lanka pushing the prices of Sri Lankan pepper to $1,750 per tonne.

In the international market also, there is good buying activity in view of the ensuing winter season.

Meanwhile, pepper imports from Sri Lanka continue unabated, Mr Kishor said. During July, around 1,000 tonnes arrived in Mumbai and August imports is said to be more. Sri Lanka had raised the prices and at this rate the landed price of Sri Lankan pepper comes to around Rs 95 per kg inclusive of 7 per cent import duty. Yet, the prices might turn out to be less than that of pepper bought and transported from Kerala to Mumbai. This trend could have serious impact on the pepper prices in Kerala, where farmers are holding large quantity on hopes of a price rise.

IPSTA had already taken up the issue with the State Government, Mr Kishor said. In a letter to the Kerala Agriculture Minister, Ms K.R. Gauri Amma, the association has requested to take remedial measures on a war footing to ``increase the import duty besides reducing the exemption for SAARC members etc., to avert the impending crisis of the farmers''.

He said Sri Lankan exports during July 2002 had gone up by 729 per cent from that of July 2001. As against 131 tonnes of export in July 2001, Sri Lanka had exported 1,082 tonnes in Jul this year, most of it was to India. The reduction in import duty to just seven per cent had facilitated the imports, he said.

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