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Cardamom prices shoot up on good buying support

G. K. Nair

Kochi , Aug. 24

Cardamom prices continued their upward swing on good buying support from the domestic markets during the week.

The average price for the first time after three years shot up to Rs 419 a kg at Wednesday's auction conducted by Cardamom Processing and Marketing Company (CPMC) at Kumily in Kerala, Mr P.C. Punnoose, General Manager, CPMC, told Business Line on Thursday.

He said that the 8 mm bold fetched Rs 567.50 a kg while 7 mm was sold at Rs 420-430 a kg. Clean green bulk was sold at Rs 400 a kg. All the 51 tonne of cardamom arrived was sold out.

There was good demand from the upcountry markets because of the ensuing festival season starting with Deepavali on October 21, he said.

It seems that dealers in the north Indian markers have exhausted their stocks. Domestic sales in the recent past have increased following widening of the retail outlets. Besides, border trade with Pakistan is also believed to have contributed to the exhaustion of the stocks, trading sources in Bodinayakannur said.

Reports of decline in production this year by around 30 per cent have activated the market pushing up the demand.

Production figures

The total output last season (August 2005-July 2006) in the country is estimated at 12,540 tonne, according to figures compiled by Upasi, as against 11,415 tonne the previous year. Production in Kerala went up to 9,765 tonne as against 8,616 tonne in 2004-05 season. In Karnataka, production declined to 1,775 tonne from 1,879 tonne while in Tamil Nadu it went up from 920 tonne to 1,000 tonne.

However, export buying has not picked up. Export buyers were inactive at the recent auctions following the rise in prices at which the overseas buyers are not interested, they said. The main foreign markets, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, are said to have stocks of cheap cardamom imported from Guatemala. The maximum price offered by Guatemala is around $7 a kg while the Indian prices used to be higher by over $3 a kg, trading sources pointed out.

As a result, imports by Saudi Arabia continued to decline in recent years. It dropped from 408 tonne in 2003-04 to 277.40 tonne in 2004-05. However, shipments to Japan moved up from 218.80 tonne in 2003-04 to 257 tonne the next year.

The total world production has shot up from 20,480 tonne in 2000 to 34,415 tonne in 2004 of which the contribution of Guatemala was 23,000 tonne. Almost the entire quantity is exported by this country, as the domestic consumption there is negligible.

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