The Centre has imposed a Minimum Import Price (MIP) on pepper at Rs 500 per kg. The commerce ministry said it has set the MIP on pepper at Rs 500 per kg as proposed by the Spices Board in order to protect the interest of domestic cultivators. The prices have crashed to Rs 300 per kg from Rs 730 in the wake of cheaper imports from neighbouring countries.
The ministry enlightened that 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 (South Asian Free Trade Area) and ISLFTA (India-Sri Lanka FTA) for availing concessional import duty.
Karnataka and Kerala are the leading pepper producing states in the country. The farmers associations have demanded tougher steps, including fixing of MIP for pepper, to prevent such in-bound shipments.