Indian spices exporters have expressed concern at the slowdown in import by China after the faceoff at the border between the two countries.
China has emerged as a major buyer of Indian spices like cumin, chilli and oleoresins in the last few years. The country had been importing large quantities of Indian spices after the relaxation of the lockdown measures there. Imports have become sluggish since the skirmish at Galwan. India exports around Rs 20,000 crore worth spices annually.
``Cumin export to China was robust till over a week ago. It has come down by 10 to 20%,’’ said U Kathik, partner of Asian Spices, a major exporter. Freshly harvested cumin hit the market by March and China and Bangladesh have been buying large quantities despite infrastructure problems at Indian ports.
However, unlike last year export demand has not pushed up the prices as the stock of good quality cumin was low because of heavy rainfall at the time of harvest, he said. The jeera futures at NCDEX have been ruling in the range of Rs 135-140 per kg in the last couple of months.
Though chilli saw a good harvest in the main producing states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Covid-19 outbreak resulted in the growers storing substantial quantities in cold storages. But China, which played a big role in chilli becoming the largest exported spice from India, has been buying from April.
``But now everything is delayed at the ports with no clear mandate from the government. As a result, exports have been hit. It is hard to say how China will react to the situation,’’ said A P Murugan, director of Paprika Oleos (India) Ltd. India’s chilli export earned over Rs 5400 crore in 2018-19.
The confusion at the port has hit the oleoresin exporters who depend on imported raw materials for value addition and export. ``We have a factory in China and import paprika from there for value addition here and export back to the country. But the exports have been held-up which will result in loss for us,’’ said Viju Jacob, MD of Synthite Ltd., biggest spice oleoresin exporter from India. China is the major buyer of paprika oleoresin in the world.
The exporters reckon that the current problems will be temporary. "We hope that what is happening at the border will not affect commerce and trade," noted Rajiv Palicha, chairman of All India Spices Exporters Forum.