The surge in pepper imports during the first half of the current year seems to have vindicated the stand of domestic growers, who had expressed intense concern over the alarming rise in the shipments of the spice into the country.
The available statistics reveal that imports during January-June touched 11,055 tonnes compared to 10,836 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year. Of this, 6,300 tonnes by extractors, 4,000 tonnes by EOUs for re-export with positive value-addition were permitted. Inspite of the high MIP(Minimum Import Price) of ₹500/kg, 8 per cent import duty, 10 per cent social welfare cess and 5 per cent GST, the imports stand as high as 717 tonnes in this year.Of late, pepper prices have started showing a declining trend since June 20, dropping by ₹15 per kg in the last fortnight.
Why is this import important?
The Indian extraction industry imports only immature light berries, which fetch the farmers fewer returns. It is an advantage for farmers that the industry did not source this material in India. It is important, therefore, to continue importing this so that the farmers can harvest the mature berries and earn a higher income.
Why does it affect the domestic market?
The pepper which is imported for value addition purpose gets leaked into the domestic market thus bringing down the prices.
What can be done?
“If the farmers and the government fear imports are being leaked into the country and thereby affecting domestic prices, a very simple but mandatory rule is to permit only Spices Board registered traders and processors, to import pepper into India. This will ensure the complete traceability of each lot that comes in after proper testing at the Spices Board. It will also be simple to implement,” says Geemon Korah, Director and CEO of Kochi-based Kancor, a natural ingredient manufacturer.