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Friday, Aug 26, 2005

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Heavy arrivals keep cardamom on leash

G.K. Nair

Kochi , Aug 25

CARDAMOM prices continued to rule steady with marginal fluctuations at the auctions in Kerala and Tamil Nadu during the week.

Heavy arrivals seem to have stopped the prices from moving up despite good buying support, market sources at Bodinayakannur and Kumily told Business Line on Thursday.

During the (official) current season from August 1 to 24, the total arrivals stood at 588 tonnes as against 141 tonnes in the same period last season. Total sales in the current season were at 568 tonnes.

Due to selling pressure the weighted average price this season is Rs 239.57 a kg as against Rs 364.98 last year.

The growers, mainly the small and medium ones, who cannot hold the stock are selling. Besides, there are apprehensions that the prices might decline because of the good crop this year, they said.

The price of graded varieties on August 20 were AGEB Rs 335-Rs 345, AGB Rs 230-Rs 240, AGS Rs 220-Rs 230 and AGS 1 Rs 210-Rs 220 a kg.

Traders were very active and "it reflects that the North Indian markets have opened up," Mr P.C. Punnoose, General Manager, Cardamom Processing and Marketing Company (CPMC), Kumily said.

However, export buying was less, probably because of non-availability of bold varieties, he said. Arrival of these varieties has yet to pick up, he said. Only 180 Kg of 8mm bold arrived at Kumily auction on Wednesday and it was sold at Rs 434 a Kg.

He said CPMC would be sending a delegation to the Gulf countries after the Onam festival next month for sales promotion. The Arab world is the major market for cardamom, with Saudi Arabia topping the list because of its use in coffee and many foods. In fact, around 70 per cent of the world production is absorbed by these markets.

The favourable weather conditions prevailing in the cardamom growing tracts would result in a good crop this year. As the fate of the crop solely depends on the vagaries of weather, the sudden withdrawal of the southwest monsoon from the cardamom growing areas followed by the dry spell has become a cause for concern, they said.

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