The Kathmandu Post, 6th April 2017, Okhaldhunga
Okhaldhunga district has become self-reliant on large cardamom saplings after a local cooperative initiated an increase to its production. If continuity is given to this initiative, the district will not have to import saplings from other districts in future, according to District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) Okhaldhunga.
Janta Krishi Cooperative, a local cooperative, has prepared around 200,000 saplings of large cardamom this year alone. The cooperative produced this number of sapling after projecting the demand of the district. “Large cardamom saplings are in high demand in the district these days,” said Ajay Luitel, chairman of Janta Krishi. “And we have enough saplings to meet this year’s demand of the district.”
Around 700 to 800 saplings of large cardamom can be planted in a ropani of land. Using that estimate, the cooperative’s stock is enough to plant large cardamom saplings in 300 ropanies of land. It plans to give continuity to sapling production in coming years too in order to make the district self-reliant in large cardamom sapling.
Cardamom farmers no longer face the problem of going to faraway districts to procure sapling due to widespread availability of saplings in the local district itself.
Earlier, they had to travel to districts like Illam, Panchthar, Taplejung and Dolkha to purchase large cardamom saplings. The cooperative is selling a cardamom sapling at Rs 12 per piece.
Lately, large cardamom farming is getting popular in districts and is planted at 12 villages of the district. High prices and strong export demand have attracted farmers of the district towards large cardamom farming.
Even though the harvest did not result in a good price last year, farmers are not discouraged.
Large cardamom is one of the major contributors to Nepal’s foreign exchange earnings. India is a major market for the cardamom produced in Nepal. From India, the spice is re-exported to Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Gulf countries and other overseas destinations.
Farmers have also been encouraged by the government’s efforts to obtain a collective trademark for large cardamom. In 2013-14, the government registered a collective trademark for large cardamom, and the spice is being promoted as Everest Large Cardamom.
Large cardamom was introduced in 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.
According to government statistics, Nepal exported large cardamom valued at Rs4.61 billion in the last fiscal year. In the previous fiscal year 2014-15, the exports totalled Rs3.83 billion.