Curry leaf - production & trade

Although the curry leaf plant is found in the wild, it is also widely cultivated for its aromatic leaves and as an ornamental. The plant is grown in almost every home garden in south India. Commercially it is grown on leaf farms in Tamil Nadu and other states.

Trade

Curry leaf is classed a minor spice crop and accurate figures on its production are not available. About 893 tonnes of curry leaves were exported from India between 2002 to 2003.

Cultivation

A close-up photograph of the glossy green leaves of the curry leaf plant.
Image: Sprig from the curry leaf plant.

Planting in southern India is mostly done just before the arrival of the monsoon in May. It is propagated by seeds, which germinate freely under partial shade. The leaves can be harvested about 15 months after planting, and a fully grown tree can yield about 100 kg leaves each year.

One of the prominent curry leaf farming areas in India is the outskirts of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Middlemen buy leaves from farmers to supply to traders in Coimbatore and vegetable markets throughout Tamil Nadu. Lack of rain in 2003 caused a shortage of curry leaves, and prices increased. Farmers have responded by increasing the planted area.