Middlemen taking lion’s share of farmers’ cut in large cardamom trade

TAPLEJUNG

Feb 2, 2019-

Although large cardamom produced in the country is making its way to gulf countries where the spice fetches a high price, farmers involved in the production are not the ones benefitting from it.  

Instead, the middlemen involved in the trading are earning handsome profits as the spice is sold in gulf countries like Qatar at a prices up to six times higher than in Nepal. For example a kilo of large cardamom fetches Rs600 in Taplejung while in Qatar, the spice is sold at Rs3,600 per kg.

According to Balmani Baral, president of Large Cardamom Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal, large cardamom on Thursday was traded at Rs24,000 per 40 kg in Taplejung  and Rs26,000 at Birtamod, Jhapa.

Meanwhile, Chandra Prakash Bhattarai who visited Qatar sometime back said a kilo of large cardamom was being sold at 120 Riyal (around Rs3,750) in the gulf country.

Also, the spice being sold in Qatar is labelled as a ‘Product from India’, according to Bhattrai. Posting a photo in social media, Bhattarai said, “Can’t we say the things produced in our soil as our own?” According to him, Qatari locals and Indian are selling large cardamom in Qatar.

The statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that the country has been producing 5,000 tonnes of cardamom annually. Almost all of the large cardamom produced in Nepal is exported, according Nirmal Bhattarai, president at the Federation of Large Cardamom Entrepreneurs of Nepal. Cardamom is being produced at 43 hilly districts in the country, he said.

However, the government has been unable to fix the market price of domestically produced cardamom and shown no initiative in promoting the Nepali brand to export markets.

Instead, the cardamom grown in the country is sold to Indian traders who then re-sell the spice with a high profit margin in gulf countries as a ‘Product from India.’

A few years back, farmers used to get up to Rs120,000 per 40 kg of large cardamom. The high price of the spice attracted many farmers who gave up the cultivation of traditional crops like paddy, maize, wheat and millet. But these days, with the price of the spice plunging, the income of farmers growing the spice has also fallen.

A few months back, Minister for Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperatives Chakra Pani Khanal said that the government would set 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.

Farmers, entrepreneurs and agro economists strongly believe that an autonomous body will go a long way in coordinating policy and practical issues for the production, processing and promotion of large cardamom.

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.

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.

Published: 02-02-2019 12:26

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