KOCHI: Cultivators should be ready to embrace lower, but more stable pepper prices for a while, with this round cyclical price fluctuation expected to end in 2019, said Hoang Thi Lien, executive director, International Pepper Community, on Wednesday.
“The overproduction of pepper with major producing countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil is causing a demand-supply mismatch, creating a slump in prices globally,” said Lien who was speaking at the launch of Farmers App, a mobile application exclusively for pepper farmers, here.
She said the total expected demand this year for pepper is 4.5 lakh tonnes with an observed annual growth of 2-3 per cent. “However, the producing nations combined can grow production by 10 per cent annually,” she said. At present, pepper prices have stabilised to touch almost `400 per kg after a global price slump pushed domestic prices under `200 per kg in 2016. “Unlike traditional pepper growing countries which mainly comprise small growers, Brazil has gained huge significance with large-scale pepper plantations with mechanised forms of production. It has already estimated to have produced 2 lakh tonnes of pepper this year,” Lien said.
Production in India is expected to taper off at 45,000 tonnes this year, a drop from previous years owing to excessive rains this season. Pepper production in India had reached a maximum of 70,000 tonnes in 2014-15. IPC reports India has the highest cost of production among other pepper producing countries. Estimates suggest in India, `280 per kg is the desired price to cover up the cost of production, while it is far lower at `200 per kg in other countries.
Lien said focussing more on the quality of the crop and increasing productivity to survive the lower price period was the way forward for pepper growers in India.