Kalpetta: Pepper growers in Kerala are facing a tough time with production level declining and prices of the commodity falling in the wake of global economic slowdown.
The spot price for the Malabar Grade-I ungarbled dipped to Rs100 a kg last week against Rs135-140 per kg during the same period last year, according to market sources.
The global financial crisis has resulted in a slump in demand from Europe and the US, which has further led to a price crash despite declining stocks due to reduction in production, they said.
Besides, pepper growers as well as marketmen also believe that the entry of online trading in the commodity, which gave room for speculation of price rather than determining the price on the basis of actual availability and demand, has also affected the pepper rates.
Affliction of pepper vines by diseases like root-wilt have resulted in fall in production. “In the past, one acre of cultivation used to yield an average 14 quintals of pepper. This has sharply come down and I would be lucky if I get five kg this year,” a farmer said.
A recent study by the Centre For Development Studies said that pepper would be seriously hit by the global meltdown with exports going down in value and quantity.