Farmers applaud minimum import price for pepper


KOJIKODE: Wayanad pepper producers are delighted with the decision by the Union Ministry of Commerce to set a minimum import price (MIP) for pepper. The price of pepper which touched Rs 675 during the corresponding period last year had dropped to Rs 375 per kilo this month due to import from Sri Lanka. MN Bavesh, a pepper merchant in Mattanchery, Kochi, told DC that shortly after the Commerce Department set the MIP, prices started to rise.

“In one day, there was an increase of Rs 25 (Rs 400 per kilogram) in the price of pepper which should soon exceed Rs 450”, he added. “I think this decision would help stabilize the price between Rs 450 and Rs 500,” he said.
Various farmers’ organizations had made a big splash about setting a MIP for pepper. Mr. Kishor Shamji, president of the Indian Pepper and Spice Trade Association (IPSTA), also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a PIM to protect the interests of farmers as well as traders.

“There was a stagnation in the market due to the low price as the farmers were not ready to sell. Although there are huge imported stocks, the importers will not sell either as the price increases,” he added. Now Indian pepper is free from the Sri Lankan and Vietnamese threat. So far, around 14,000 tonnes of pepper has been imported and nearly 50 percent (7,000 tonnes) has come from Vietnam, it was pointed out.

The duty for importing spices into India from Sri Lanka is only 8.5%, while the same duty in Nepal is free under the SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) agreement. India had entered into an import agreement with Sri Lanka for 2,500 tonnes of pepper per year, taking advantage of the low tariff structure. Vietnam’s projected pepper production in the coming season is around 1.7 lakh to 1.9 lakh ton while that of India is around 65,000 tons to 70,000 tons, according to experts. of the market.

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