Bengaluru : Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written a letter to the Centre to immediately intervene and take stringent measures to check import of pepper from Vietnam through Sri Lanka.
The duty-free import of spices allowed from Sri Lanka under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) has resulted in the pepper produced cheaply in Vietnam finding its way into India through Sri Lanka, leading to a crash in prices of pepper grown in Karnataka.
In a letter to Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu, the Chief Minister said stringent checks on the import from Sri Lanka were necessary to keep the price of indigenously grown pepper stable. Imports should be regulated so that only superior quality pepper is allowed.
As the largest producer of pepper in India, Siddaramaiah said Karnataka produces 14,500 tonnes of the commodity every year. “In Karnataka, pepper is grown as an inter-crop in coffee and areca plantations by trailing the vines on the trees. Our shade-grown black pepper is of high quality, and more importantly, it is eco-friendly,” he said.
He doubted that most of the imported pepper might actually be rejected consignments from elsewhere for high pesticide residues.