The advent of the festive season has brought joy to cardamom farmers in Kerala’s Idukki district, with the price of the “queen of spices” surging by 20% month-on-month in October to reach INR 1,900 per kilogram at the farm gate level.
A year ago, cardamom was trading at around INR 1,100 per kilogram. This year, there has been a noticeable surge in prices, mainly due to a 30% reduction in cardamom production, with the total yield plummeting to 23,000 tonnes. This decline can be attributed to the scarce rainfall experienced during the crucial growing periods of June and August.
“The drop in production has been compensated by the high prices. But what is worrying us is the illegal influx of cardamom from Guatemala,” said Prabhakar SB, a cardamom grower in Idukki, whose family has been in this business for nearly 80 years.
Significantly, 95% of the country’s cardamom is produced in Idukki district.
Rainfall in the district has been deficient by 60% thus far. Cardamom harvesting typically commences towards the latter part of July. Although there was some rainfall towards the end of September, growers believe it is insufficient to rectify the damage incurred.
“Last year, cardamom farmers got a price of INR 1,000 per kg, even though the cost of production was INR 1,200 per kg,” said PC Punnoose, chief executive officer of Kerala Cardamom Processing & Marketing Company. “In September, the prices of cardamom went up by INR 1,500-1,600 per kg. In October, prices have further shot up to INR 1,900 per kg as the festive season demand for cardamom has picked up.”