KOCHI: To check the sudden crash in pepper prices, which has fallen to `375 per kg, the Centre on Wednesday stepped in to fix its Minimum Import Price (MIP) at `500 per kg.“The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has approved the proposal of Spices Board for fixing CIF (cost, insurance, freight) value of `500 per kg as MIP for pepper to protect the interests of pepper growers,” a Commerce Ministry release said. Pepper prices have been ruling at `600 per kg early this year, before it crashed by 35-37 per cent now, bringing difficult times to farmers as harvesting season approaches.
Following the crash, 12 pepper-growing farmers’ associations from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka formed a consortium and met the Union Commerce Minister recently.The Consortium of Pepper Growers Organisation, in its representation, said cheaper and low-quality pepper was being imported into the country, bringing down the prices.
The Ministry said in the release: “Since most of thepepper-producing countries are in ASEAN region, there have also been apprehensions of pepper from these countries being routed through Sri Lanka, taking advantage of the lower duty under SAFTA and ISLFTA, for availing of concessional import duty. Farmers’ associations have demanded stringent measures, including fixing of MIP, to prevent cheaper import of pepper into the country from other origins.”