the Association of Planters of Kerala (APK). Some 55 per cent of tea produced for export from the Nilgiris and Idukki didn’t find buyers, he says. While the lockdown has compounded their woes, tea estate workers say they need to keep plucking the tea leaves on time, or else the plants will have to be pruned and they will have to wait for a few more months to revive the yield. As per Coonoor-based United Planters Association of South India, tea estates in the region could have incurred losses to the tune of `250 crore due to the lockdown.
Data with Kochi-based Spices Board shows cardamom farmers across the south India might have suffered losses to the tune of `210 crore. Nearly 80 per cent of cardamom trade happens through auctions involving international agencies and cartels. Now auctions have stopped and retail sales have also reached a standstill. “Companies dealing with spices in Delhi and suburbs consume 20 to 25 tonnes of cardamom a day,” says K V Varghese, a cardamom cultivator in Adimali in Idukki, adding that any extension to the lockdown will have a disastrous impact on the sector.
While black pepper farmers in Kerala’s Wayanad and Karnataka’s Kodagu are likely to have incurred losses of `80 crore, APK says the natural rubber sector has suffered a loss of `350 crore. However, the price of latex, used for making gloves, is likely to increase from current `102 a kg.