The price of large cardamom, one of the high value cash crops and export commodities, has been looking up recently in the eastern region.
"The price of large cardamom in Birtamod of Jhapa — the key market in the east — has gone up to Rs 1,500 per kg," according to the president of Large Cardamom Entrepreneurs' Association of Nepal, Taplejung chapter Khadga Bahadur Moktan.
Taplejung is the major grower of large cardamom in Nepal.
The number of farmers involved in large cardamom cultivation in the country stands at around 33,000. Though large cardamom is a promising crop to utilise the marginal and semi marginal lands in the mid hills, protect the greenery — because large cardamom requires shade — generate employment and boost the economy, it has not been able to receive proper attention and assistance as compared to other commodities.
Market promotional activities and basic infrastructure like road, collection centres, godowns, packaging and branding, exploration of new markets and extension services are lacking. Yet, the lucrative cash crop has been gaining popularity among farmers in the mid hills and in other districts too.
Though it is cultivated in nearly 37 districts of mid hill region, 97 per cent of large cardamom cultivation is, however, concentrated in seven districts of the Eastern Development Region — Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Terhathum and Sankhuwasabha, according to production statistics.
However, data from the Trade and Export Centre (TEPC) reveals that the export of cardamom has dropped by 1.6 per cent. "The country had exported cardamom worth Rs 2.67 billion in the first nine months of the last fiscal year 2011-12," it said, adding that the export stood at Rs 2.63 billion in the same period of the current fiscal year. "However, in the last fiscal year, the total export of 5.31 million kg had fetched the country Rs 3.49 billion."
Cardamom is one of the largest export earners among the cash crops, followed by lentils, tea and ginger.
"The current price hike might fetch the country more earnings," said Moktan, adding that in recent months the price of cardamom has been steadily increasing.
Commodity – 2011-12 – 2012-13
Cardamom – Rs 2.67 billion – Rs 2.63
Lentils – Rs 1.77 billion – Rs 2.37 billion
Tea – Rs 992.96 million – Rs 1.35 billion
(Prices of nine months of respective fiscal years. Source: Trade and Export Promotion Centre)