Cardamom output and exports from India are down in this season to climate impact

Exports of cardamom have drooped in the new season after a record export last year, and production too is also likely to be down by 40 per cent as many plants have been damaged due to unfavourable climate.

Harvest of cardamom this season started in June, over a month early this year due to heavy summer rains in Kerala, the top cardamom producing state. But the southwest monsoon has also been intense, accompanied by strong winds.

Exports to Saudi Arabia have virtually stopped in the last couple of months with the government tightening the standards for pesticide monitoring and rejecting some Indian consignments.

The decline in arrivals and robust domestic demand have raised the price of the spice by 15-20% over the last six weeks to Rs 1,000 per kg.

The setback in export is at present being compensated by a strong demand from the north Indian market, which is keeping the price at Rs 1,000 per kg. Cardamom prices used to hover around Rs 1,000-1,200 kg some months ago and they fell to about Rs 800 per kg level in anticipation of good crop early this year.

The spice is currently selling around $ 17 per kg in the global market, down from $ 20 a few months ago. Indian cardamom holds an edge over the Guatemalan variety in the international market by virtue of its superior quality, though the latter is cheaper.

Till the entry of Guatemalan variety over a month ago, India used to be the major supplier in the world market. But high prices had hampered the shipments. The prices had escalated to about Rs 1400 per kg, a five-year high on the back of a production shortfall.

A delayed start to the harvest season after inadequate monsoon saw the output plunge to 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes, a drop of nearly 50 per cent.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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