40,000-t pepper imports hammered prices in 2017
An estimated 40,000 tonnes of pepper landed in India through legal and illegal routes in 2017 and that, in turn, has hammered prices of the indigenous produce by nearly 50 per cent forcing the Centre to fix a minimum import price of Rs. 500 a kg.
Indian imports normally are around 20,000 tonnes per annum, Spices Board sources said. Imports of black pepper directly from Vietnam totalled 16,281 tonnes during January-December 2017. But, according to trade sources, as much as 36,000 tonnes arrived from Vietnam and Sri Lanka last year through legal and illegal routes.
Even after imposing the minimum import price, “it has been noticed that unscrupulous exporters from Sri Lanka as well as importers in India are continuing bringing in Sri Lankan pepper at Rs. 500 minimum import price and selling at Rs. 390/kg,” said Kishor Shamji Kuruva, Kerala Chapter Head of Indian Pepper and Spice Traders, Farmers, Producers and Planters Consortium (IPSTFPC).
The other routes through which Vietnamese pepper has landed in India are Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal and it is estimated that 4,000 tonnes were smuggled into the country, he said.
As a result, cheap imported stuff is dumped in the main consuming markets across the country, and this has pulled pepper prices in the country to below Rs. 390 a kg, said Sunil Kumar, a farmer in Sakleshpur.