Deficient rains could hit production of spices

Written by RajeshRavi | Kochi | Updated: Jul 5 2012, 07:53am hrs
Production of agro spices like pepper, cardamom and turmeric are likely to be severely impacted due to lower precipitation during June. Monsoon in Kerala is 29% below normal for the period of June 1 to July 4, according to the data provided by the regional centre of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Most of the agro commodities are extremely rain sensitive.

Wayanad district in Kerala, which is home to pepper, coffee, tea and ginger, has received 58% less rains during June, while Idukki, which has most of the cardamom plantations in India, has received 28 % lower rains during the period. Erode and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu have received scanty rains so far and would depend on canal irrigation for the turmeric crops.

Lower monsoon rains would put more pressure on water supply, RK Viswanathan of Erode Turmeric Merchants Association said.

We received very little rains in June and this could have a long term impact on all the crops. Currently, the moisture content of the soil is helping coffee but lesser rains during this monsoon would impact yield during the next crop season severely, Anand MV, a farmer from the Wayanad region told FE.

After the onset of monsoon, spike initiation in black pepper crop can be seen along with the emergence of new leaf on lateral branch within a week. Spike formation could be affected due to the let-up in rains, which lead to rise in daytime temperature. Pepper vines need continuous moisture supply for 16 weeks after the onset of monsoon rains. Extended dry period often leads to disturbance of physiology in the plants, experts say.

Drought in the cardamom-producing high ranges of Kerala state is likely to delay the arrival of the next crop by one or two months from the normal time of July. The summer was harsh in Idukki, which produces bulk of the cardamom produced in India. KK Devassia of Cardamom Growers Association said that several plantations have suffered good damage to their plants on account of drought. Some growers have survived by irrigating the plants in the dry climate. Cardamom needs low temperature, high humidity and incessant drizzles.