Govt mulls formation of large cardamom dev boardMinister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives Chakra Pani Khanal said that the government is “serious” in setting up a large cardamom development board or similar entity to address problems faced by farmers and to capitalise on the untapped business potential of the valuable spice.
Minister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives Chakra Pani Khanal said that the government is “serious” in setting up a large cardamom development board or similar entity to address problems faced by farmers and to capitalise on the untapped business potential of the valuable spice.
For a long time, large cardamom farmers have been demanding that the government set up an independent body to harness the potential of large cardamom.
Farmers, entrepreneurs and agro economists strongly believe that an autonomous body would go a long way in coordinating policy and practical issues for the production, processing and promotion of large cardamom.
“There is the need to introduce land use policy to realise Nepal’s competitive advantage in agriculture produces,” he said. “It’s high time that Nepal became self-sufficient in agriculture,” he said addressing a national dialogue in Kathmandu organised by the World Vision Advocacy Forum with support from International Labour Organisation (ILO) under UNNATI-Inclusive Growth Programme in Nepal.
During the event, speakers said that promotion of Nepal’s Everest Big Cardamom brand was crucial for value addition as India brands Nepal’s large cardamom as its own in the international market.
According to a report titled National Sector Export Strategy of Large Cardamom 2017-21 released by the Ministry of Commerce recently, new competitors have entered the Pakistani market—the key large cardamom consuming country—and their products are significantly cheaper compared to Nepali and Indian large cardamom.
The spice is identified as a niche product with increasing popularity among premium class consumers in the global market, but lately, its market has started shrinking.
“In recent years, incentivised by the high economic return from large cardamom, major producers of green cardamom, namely Guatemala, China and Vietnam, began exporting ‘duplicate’ large cardamom to Pakistan,” the report said.
The ‘duplicate’ large cardamom is different in terms of shape and smell, but Pakistani merchants mix it with authentic Nepali large cardamom to reduce costs and boost profits, it said. This growing practice among traders in Pakistan has led to a decrease in large cardamom exports from India, and thus negatively impacted Nepal’s large cardamom sector.
The price of large cardamom touched a new peak of Rs2,500 per kg in 2014 before plunging 66 percent to Rs850 per kg this year.
Chairman of National Cooperatives Federation and former minister, Keshab Badal said large cardamom was a niche product of Nepal that demands special attention and investment.
Nabin Kumar Karna, national programme coordinator of ILO, said ILO’s partnership with public and private organisations has helped to raise issues of responsible business practices in large cardamom, orthodox tea, ginger and dairy through inclusive dialogue mechanisms for higher productivity and income.
Nepal is the world’s largest producer of large cardamom. Other countries where this cultivar is produced are India and Bhutan.
The average annual production of Nepal exceeds 6,600 tonnes, which is about 55 percent of the average annual world production of around 12,000 tonnes. About 100,000 households are engaged in large cardamom farming in Nepal.