Cardamom acreage reaches 4-year highThe cardamom acreage has reached a four-year high in the eastern hill district of Ilam as farmers encouraged by zooming prices have increased cultivation of the spice plant.
The cardamom acreage has reached a four-year high in the eastern hill district of Ilam as farmers encouraged by zooming prices have increased cultivation of the spice plant.
The Large Cardamom Development Centre and the District Agriculture Office have also been urging farmers to expand plantings of cardamom as prices have touched Rs2,500 per kg.
According to the District Agriculture Office, 440 tonnes of large cardamom were produced on 1,760 hectares in 2011-12. The area where large cardamom is grown had shrunk to 1,509 hectares in 2014-15 as farmers started planting the crop on new fields. However, output rose to 521 tonnes.
In 2015-16, the area under large cardamom cultivation rose slightly to 1,550 hectares and output amounted to 558 tonnes, up 7.18 percent. In terms of value, the district produced cardamom worth Rs1.39 billion, an increase of Rs220 million compared to the same period last year.
“Growers have been encouraged by rising prices,” said Prakash Kumar Dangi, chief of the office. The government had launched various programmes to boost output. The agriculture office had allocated Rs3.4 million for various programmes aimed at expanding the acreage and production this year. According to Dangi, large cardamom saplings are in high demand in the district.
In the past, a large number of farmers had destroyed their old cardamom crops due to pest infestation. The new plants have started bearing fruits and production has started increasing gradually.
“I have been earning Rs1 million annually from the new plants,” said Toya Dahal, a farmer of Maimajuwa. “Most of the farmers have been applying bio-pests and chemicals to increase output.”
Large cardamom prices had plunged to Rs1,000 per kg in 2011 on low overseas demand. Since then, prices have been rising gradually, reaching Rs1,500 per
kg in 2013 and Rs2,500 per kg this year.
Large cardamom is one of the major contributors to Nepal’s foreign exchange earnings. India is a major market for the large cardamom produced in Nepal. From India, the spice is re-exported to Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Gulf countries and other overseas destinations.
Farmers have also been encouraged by the government’s efforts to obtain a collective trademark for large cardamom. In 2013-14, the government registered a collective trademark for large cardamom, and the spice is being promoted as Everest Large Cardamom.
Large cardamom was introduced into Ilam from Sikkim in 1865. Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum, Bhojpur and Dhankuta districts are the major large cardamom producing areas in Nepal. Cultivation of the spice has now spread to more than 38 districts.