Spices Board alerts Customs to act against illegal cardamom imports

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KOCHI, MARCH 4:

In a bid to arrest the entry of cardamom illegally into the country, the Spices Board has alerted the Commissioners of Customs at major ports to take action against illegal imports through land-locked and border countries, such as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.

Even though the imports, according to official records, are an insignificant 200 tonnes, the trade is of the view that more could have entered the domestic market illegally.

However, good export buying supported the market to remain nearly steady despite slack demand from upcountry markets at the auctions . Exporters were estimated to have bought 70 tonnes of above 7mm good colour capsules last week.

The individual auction average prices vacillated between Rs 680 and Rs 740 a kg on slack domestic demand. Arrivals showed a marginal rise following release of stocks held by growers of the second round of harvesting in October-November, market sources claimed.

Upcountry demand used to be slack usually during February and hence there is a decline in sales, trade sources said. Total arrivals last week stood at around 325 tonnes and of this about 315 tonnes of capsules were sold.

Good colour cardamom of above 7mm variety was fetching Rs 850-870 a kg. Exporters were said to be buying this variety at this rate, trade sources in Bodinayakannur told Business Line.

According to them, pepper from Guatemala is smuggled into India through some of the neighbouring countries and that has been impacting the price of the indigenous produce, they said. The bear operators are taking this opportunity to pull the prices down, they alleged. Such a phenomenon is attributed to the decline in the prices in recent days from above Rs 800 about three weeks ago.

Though the imports had taken place in the latter half of 2012 and early 2013, there was no perceptible decline in the auction average prices which was vacillating between Rs 696 and Rs 787 during June 2012 to January 2013. During the last year, the dip in average auction prices was noticed only in January 2012 at Rs 512 , which was prior to imports. Even this drag down of price is not that alarming compared with the price in November 2011 which ruled at Rs 517. In fact, the price picked up in the month of January 2012 after a fall in price to Rs 506 in December 2011, it said.

The Board sources said the total import duty through authentic route is around 80.9 per cent and when this rate “is applied by the Customs on the tariff value, the price outcome is unlikely to upset the current auction average price”. There is said to be moderate demand for good quality capsules having good colour and are bold above 7 mm. Exporters were actively covering this variety at the prevailing prices, he said.

At the Sunday auction conducted by the KCPMC, total arrivals stood at 68 tonnes as against 61.3 tonnes on the previous Sunday and the entire quantity was sold. The maximum price was at Rs 1,049 a kg and minimum was at Rs 482 a kg. Auction average price moved up slightly to Rs 706.84 from Rs 704.59 the previous Sunday, P.C. Punnoose of KCPMC told Business Line.

The weighted average price as on March 3 stood at Rs 765.85 ( Rs 572.98).

Prices of graded varieties slipped slightly due weak domestic demand.

Prices in Rs/kg: AGEB 975-985; AGB 710-720; AGS 690-700 and AGS-1: 680-690.

Source: Business Line

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