Lamjung farmers grade cardamomLarge cardamom farmers in Lamjung are currently busy grading the spice to ensure uniformity in the quality of the product exported from the western district.
Large cardamom farmers in Lamjung are currently busy grading the spice to ensure uniformity in the quality of the product exported from the western district.
Farmers here categorise cardamoms based on their size and quality. The highest quality of cardamom is referred to as ‘Jumbo Jet’.
These cardamoms are biggest in size and cost Rs680-700 per kg. Cardamom of the second grade is known as ‘medium size’, which costs Rs650-670 per kg and the spice of the third grade is known as ‘ordinary’ and is priced at Rs600 per kg.
These prices are way below that of the last fiscal year. A year ago, Jumbo Jet used to fetch Rs1,100-1,400 per kg, while medium size and ordinary cardamoms were being sold at Rs1,100-1,300 per kg and Rs1,000-1,200 per kg, respectively.
Cardamom’s price has been falling in the international market for the last three years due to surge in production in India and penetration of “fake” cardamom, according to Ajay Tamang, president of the district chapter of the Federation of Cardamom Entrepreneurs.
“We are grading cardamom to create our own identity in the international market,” said Tamang.
In order maintain quality of the spice, the federation has directed farmers not to dry the product in wood oven or burn the end of the capsule. However, many have questioned the effectiveness of grading the spice at a time when farmers have already sold around 60 percent of the harvest.
Most of cardamom grown in the district is exported to various international markets via India.
Cardamom is produced in around 28 villages in Lamjung. The annual production of cardamom in the district stood at 821 quintals last year. This year production is expected to drop to 600 quintals, as many plants have grown old and need to be replaced with new ones.
Cardamom is produced mainly in the eastern hills in Nepal, although cultivation of the spice has now spread to more than 38 districts across the country, as more and more farmers in different parts of the country have started growing the crop.
Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum, Bhojpur and Dhankuta districts are major producers of the spice in Nepal.
Outside Nepal, the spice is grown only in Sikkim and Darjeeling in India and Bhutan. Large cardamom was first introduced in Ilam from Sikkim in 1865.
Nepal is the largest producer of large cardamom, accounting for 68 percent of the global production. It is followed by India and Bhutan.