High local prices may upset India’s efforts to export more cardamom to West Asian countries, where prices have fallen owing to Covid-19.

With local cardamom prices hovering around ₹3,200 per kg last month, India was unable to beat the competition from Guatemala, the largest producer of the spice, in the Gulf countries. Guatemalan cardamom had more takers at $42 per kg , around $10 lower than the Indian rates.

“But now Guatemala seems to have exhausted the stock and Covid-19 scare has impacted prices. There are offers for Indian cardamom at $46 per kg,’’ said SPGR Nityanandan, an exporter.

Unless local prices cool off with an increase in supply, exporters are likely to find it difficult to take advantage of the price fall in the Gulf countries. “Moreover, there is a dearth of good quality cardamom in the market, especially the 7mm bold variety,’’ said Nityanandan.

Shipments from India are going to Kuwait, Dubai and Bahrain following the ban on Indian cardamom by Saudi Arabia because of pesticide residue for over a year now. As Saudi Arabia used to buy a major share of Indian cardamom, its absence from the list of export destinations has led to a heavy drop in cardamom shipments from India.

With Ramadan demand on, there is a greater demand from West Asian countries.

India’s cardamom exports plunged 72 per cent year-on-year to 405 tonnes in the six months to September 2019.

Cardamom production in 2019 was around 12,000 tonnes, almost the same as in the previous year. The plantation stock coming for auctions is virtually over, according to local traders.

“The growers who have been holding some stock in anticipation of higher prices may have to release them gradually as exporters have kept away from purchases,’’ said KS Mathew, a cardamom grower.

This year, some stock is left with growers owing to poor exports and lower domestic consumption.

Mathew said a price drop below ₹3,000 per kg would spur export demand. “Good summer rains in March and April will boost the prospects of a bumper crop in the next harvest and will push down prices,’’ he said.

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