The government has approved a proposal from the Spices Board to impose a minimum import price (MIP) of Rs.500/kg on the spice. This move is to protect domestic pepper growers against a surge in imports possibly originating from South-East Asia, especially Vietnam. A release from the Commerce & Industry Ministry states that “Decline in the domestic pepper price due to cheaper import from other origins has been a major concern among pepper growers. Pepper prices have gone down by nearly 35 per cent in one year and have resulted in a lot of hardship for pepper growers.”
There are trepidation since most of the pepper-producing countries are in the ASEAN region, pepper from the region is being routed through Sri Lanka taking advantage of lower duty under SAFTA (South Asia FTA) and India-Sri Lanka FTA, the release said.
Farmers’ associations have been demanding that the government must take stringent measures, including fixing of MIP, to prevent cheaper imports of pepper into the country from other origins.
Earlier this year, Indian Pepper and Spice Trade Association (IPSTA) had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Commerce Ministry requesting a MIP on pepper to check imports from Vietnam that is likely to have a robust produce in 2017. Pepper was available at over Rs.700 per kg last year, is now trading at slightly above Rs. 400 spelling doom for domestic growers.
Fixing MIP will help to improve the domestic price particularly when the harvesting season of pepper is fast approaching, the release added.