Minimum import price for pepper has been fixed at CIF value of Rs 500 per kg to protect the interests of pepper growers, sources at the ministry of commerce and industry said on Wednesday. The union government approved the proposal of the state-run spices board as cheaper imports of pepper is seen putting pressure on the domestic market. Pepper prices have gone down by nearly 35 % in one year and have resulted in a lot of hardship for pepper growers. In recent times, decline in the domestic pepper price due to cheaper import of pepper has been a major concern among pepper growers.
India is the largest consumer of pepper in the world and the second largest producer after Vietnam. Sources said that fixing of minimum import price will help improving the domestic price particularly when the harvesting season of pepper is fast approaching. 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 taking of stringent measures including fixing of minimum import price (MIP) for pepper to prevent cheaper imports of pepper into the country from other origins.