Kochi: It is a prosperous period for nutmeg farmers in Kerala. As the harvest season approached, traders from foreign countries started arriving personally to buy nutmegs directly from the farmers. Most of the demand comes from the Gulf countries including U.A.E. Countries like the US, Nigeria, and Germany are also major buyers. Kerala nutmegs are in high demand because of their supreme quality. With this demand, the market became quite active.
In previous years, the farmers did not get much yield due to climate change. However, this year, the farmers expect the production to increase by around 25 percent.
In the market, high-quality nutmeg is priced at approximately Rs 280-300 per kilogram, while shell-less nutmegs are in the range of Rs 500-550. Nutmeg mace can cost up to Rs 1500. Prices vary in different markets.
If rain commences, farmers may face difficulty in adequately drying the nutmegs. Consequently, the price of nutmegs might decline. Farmers are preparing to make maximum sales before the onset of the monsoon season.
Nutmeg: a global staple in food
With its distinct aroma and rich flavor, nutmeg has become a sought-after ingredient in various cuisines around the world. Nutmeg serves as a versatile spice, not only enhancing flavors but also offering potential health benefits and medicinal preparations. Therefore, during the harvest season in Kerala, nutmeg is collected in large quantities by foreign countries and exporters in India. These are then sold off-season at high prices. After Covid, the demand for nutmegs in the foreign markets has increased.
Kerala’s nutmeg industry at stake?
It is estimated that this year, the production in the country will reach 25,000 tonnes. Nutmeg is majorly grown in Idukki, Ernakulam, and Kottayam districts. Currently, Kerala contributes to more than 95 percent of the country's production. However, it is estimated that in the next 10 years Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana states will advance and Kerala will lag behind. The main reason for this is that high-quality seedlings are not planted in Kerala. “It is essential for farmers to establish nutmeg plantations as their agricultural practices,” said Josie Kochukudi, an Ernakulam-based nutmeg farmer.