Pepper price at record high in Kerala market

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Kottayam, May 17 (PTI) Continuing its upward march, price of black pepper scaled a new high for the decade at Rs 292 per kg in the wholesale market in Iddukki district, a major producer of the food additive in the country.
The ungarbled pepper touched Rs 284 a kg while garbled variety closed at Rs 292 per kg yesterday and traders attributed supply shortage for the firming up of the price.
The previous highest pepper price was Rs 275 a kg recorded on November 1, 1999, traders said.
"If this trend continues, the price will soon touch Rs 300 per kg mark very soon," traders said.
They also said predictions of a slump in production this year by speculators was another reason for the sudden jump in the price of pepper.
In Kerala, pepper is mainly cultivated in Idukki and Wayanad district but farmers of late had been turning to other cash crops including rubber, cloves and cardamom due to un-remunerative price of pepper in the past several years.
Price of pepper was only Rs 161.17 per kg a year ago.
The area of cultivation had dropped steeply in Kerala from 2,37,998 hectares in 2005 to 1,72,764 hectares, sources said.
"But now farmers are gradually showing interest in pepper cultivation," traders said. Production was slightly higher in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka compared to Kerala, trade sources said.

(Source: http://news.in.msn.com/business/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5164635)

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