Taplejung produces large cardamom worth Rs6b

- ANANDA GAUTAM, TAPLEJUNG

Feb 12, 2016-

This year’s large cardamom harvest in the eastern mountain district of Taplejung was valued at Rs6 billion, a big jump attributed to rising prices and growing commercial farming. The figure has been calculated on the basis of the floor price of Rs2,050 per kg. 

Taplejung produced 24,010 tonnes of large cardamom this year, according to the District Agriculture Development Office. 

Dinesh Adhikari, a local trader, said that large cardamom fetched prices of up to Rs2,325 per kg this year. The rates are mostly determined by traders in Jhapa. Last year, large cardamom sold for as high as Rs2,500 per kg. 

In 2011, large cardamom prices had plunged to Rs1,000 per kg due to a sharp drop in overseas demand. Since then, prices have been rising gradually, reaching Rs1,500 per kg in 2014 and Rs2,500 per kg in 2015.

The spice is one of the high value cash crops and export commodities and is grown only in Sikkim and Darjeeling in India, Bhutan and Nepal. Most farmers had held on to their last year’s harvests hoping that prices would increase further. 

Umesh Pant, a horticulture officer under the District Agriculture Development Office, said favourable weather and reduced pest infection had boosted the output of large cardamom this year. The major disease threat to large cardamom is Chirke and Furkey viral diseases. This year’s crops were not infected much due to good weather. Besides, growers have also been looking for disease-resistant varieties.

“Prices started at Rs2,050 this year, and they are expected to increase further,” said Pant. 

Farmers started doing commercial farming after prices started to jump. According to the office, large cardamom is produced on 4,500 hectares in Taplejung. 

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.

Large cardamom is one of the major contributors to Nepal’s foreign exchange earning.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, Nepal exported 1,404 tonnes of large cardamom valued at Rs1.97 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal year. The export value of large cardamom increased 98 percent this fiscal year. 

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.

Published: 12-02-2016 09:05

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