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The Consortium of Pepper Growers Organisation has urged Union Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu to regulate and restrict import of black pepper into India and stop malpractices of re-exports from different origin by traders and exporters. Briefing reporters here on Tuesday, convener Konkodi Padmanabha said that a few exporters are importing pepper from Vietnam with duty rebates under ‘value addition for re-export scheme’ and the same gets retained and sold in the Indian market. Instead of re-exporting Vietnam pepper, Indian grown pepper is repacked and exported as processed/sterilised Vietnam pepper. Through this malpractice, exporters get the entire import duty credited back to his account which amounts to Rs 150 per kg, he explained.

He said that the government was urged to fix minimum import tariff price for the import on arecanut. “The import duty on pepper should be hiked. The government should also initiate measures to check import of poor quality of pepper,” he said. Konkodi Pamanabha said the Spices Board should stop certification immediately as the whole issue of re-export is questionable in many ways.

“The government must fix the minimum import price of pepper at US dollar 8000 per tonne as done in the case of cardamom and arecanut to avoid under invoicing. Imports under Indo-Sri Lanka FTA and ASEAN route should be monitored and license must be issued by the government of India to importers so that no third country can take advantage.

Issuing of certificate on country of origin should be entrusted to officials at higher levels under the Preferential and Free Trade Agreement. The import of pepper should also be restricted to one port in the country,” he said.

He said that import of poor quality of pepper and malpractices practiced by the traders and importers was responsible for a slash in the price of pepper from Rs 650 per kg to Rs 380 per kg. He said that as the Commerce Ministry has asked for cost of cultivation of pepper, the Consortium of Pepper Growers Organisation had met CPCRI Director Dr Chowdappa and Dr Homi Cheriyan, Director, Directorate of Arecanut and Spices and appealed to them to prepare the cost of cultivation of pepper and submit the same to the Centre within a month.

The cost of cultivation of pepper is essential for the government to fix import duty on pepper, he said. In reply to a query, Co-Convener Vishwanath K K said that about 20,000 to 25,000 tonne pepper has been imported to India. In the month of October alone, 3,000 tonne pepper was imported through Kochi Port alone. He also said that Gonikoppa APMC in Kodagu district had imported about 180 tonnes of pepper from Vietnam. Campco president S R Sathishchandra said that Campco will make all efforts to stabilise the pepper market at the earliest.

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