Cardamom farmers rue lack of govt assistanceCardamom farmers in the eastern district of Dhankuta have complained about the concerned authorities’ failure to assist them.
Lila Ballav Ghimire
Cardamom farmers in the eastern district of Dhankuta have complained about the concerned authorities’ failure to assist them.
Nepal is the largest producer of large cardamom, commanding a 68 percent share in the international market. It is followed by India and Bhutan.
Dhankuta, Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum and Bhojpur districts are the major producers of the spice in Nepal.
Although large cardamom is one of the major contributors to Nepal’s foreign exchange earnings, government authorities are least concerned about addressing the farmers’ problems such as assisting in getting rid of diseases affecting the crop, according to the locals involved in cardamom farming.
According to government statistics, Nepal exported
large cardamom worth Rs4.61 billion last fiscal year. In the previous fiscal year 2014-15, the exports totalled Rs3.83 billion.
The government had established National Commercial Agriculture Research Centre in Pakhribas almost a decade ago to promote farming of high-value cash crops such as cardamom and tea in the country. But the centre neither has its own building nor skilled employees.
“The centre lacks office building, vehicles for transportation, scientists and other technical staff, laboratory and equipments,” said Gobinda Timilshina, acting coordinator of the centre. “We need at least 10 hectares of
land for research and technology development.”
Although there are posts for 30 employees, only seven are working for last 10 years. Initially, the centre was established for research and technology development in tea, cardamom, ginger, off-seasonal vegetable, medicinal herbs, fruits, livestock and dairy.
However, it has lately been asked to concentrate on research on tea and cardamom to increase productivity. Due to lack of new technology, the farmers are adopting traditional approach, resulting in low yield. Currently, 450 kg of large cardamom is produced on a hectare of land, which is very low according to agro experts. They say if right variant of the specie is selected and farming methods are improved, the productivity can be increased to 800-1,000 kg per hectare.
“The locals are cultivating species like ramsai, golsai, ramla, bharlang and chibesai, among others. But none of these species are recommended by the government,” said Timilshana. “Although it is the responsibility of the centre to recommend the right species, we are unable to do so as we lack resources for that.”