The union ministry of commerce and industry has approved the proposal of the Spices Board for fixing the CIF (cost insurance and freight) value of Rs500 per kg as the minimum import price for pepper to protect the interests of local pepper growers.
The decision follows a plummeting of domestic pepper price due to cheaper import of the commodity from other origins, which 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.
Since most of the pepper-producing countries are in the ASEAN region, there have also been apprehensions of pepper from these countries, being routed through Sri Lanka taking advantage of lower duty under SAFTA and ISLFTA, for availing concessional import duty. Farmers' associations have demanded stringent measures, including fixing of Minimum Import Price (MIP) for pepper to prevent cheaper imports of pepper into the country from other origins.
Fixing minimum import price will help in improving the domestic price particularly when the harvesting season of pepper is fast approaching, the ministry noted.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah had also submitted a memorandum to union minister of commerce and industry Suresh Prabhu stating that farmers in Karnataka were suffering due to flooding of cheap quality products from Vietnam and Sri Lanka.