Large cardamom is one of Nepal’s largest exports

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Large cardamom prices jumped Rs 400 to Rs 2,100 per kg this year as the new harvesting season began. The spice is one of Nepal’s largest exports. It cost Rs 1,700 at this time a year ago.

Stocked cardamom is dearer at Rs 2,400 per kg. Large cardamom stored two months ago has been priced at Rs 96,000 per mana (40 kg). Since stored cardamom is drier and weighs less, there are more pods per kilogram. For this reason, traders charge more for cardamom that has been stocked for a long period.

Newly harvested cardamom, which contains a certain level of moisture, used to be cheaper in the past. But things have changed presently with traders rushing to buy whatever type of cardamom is available, fresh or stocked.

According to the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), the production of cardamom has dropped this year due to several types of infections. Farmers started selling their products from mid-August this year but a majority of them have not sold all their stocks expecting a rise in prices.

According to the DADO, the rates farmers have received for their cardamom this year is an all-time high. Gopi Dhungana, a cardamom trader from Chhate Dhunga, said that he got a very good price which was unthinkable for him initially. Cardamom farming is a source of income for many farmers in Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Sankhuwasabha and Terhathum among other districts in the eastern hilly regions of the country. With cardamom prices increasing steadily over the past one decade, it has improved the economic standard of farmers.

Cardamom prices have been climbing for the last three years. Many farmers used to sell their products at the beginning of the season at lower prices. However, since prices have started rising, most of the farmers have been holding on to their stocks expecting further price rises.

As of now, cardamom is selling at Rs 84,000 per 40 kg, according to Pemba Bhotiya, vice-president of the Cardamom Traders Association. Traders said that though prices had been fluctuating, there were slim chances of their falling amid reports of a drop in production.

Traders said that if Solsako Sun species of cardamom had not been affected by disease, farmers would have earned billions this year. Since prices have gone up globally, the impact has been visible here, said traders. According to the DADO, cardamom is cultivated on 650 hectares in the Eastern Region. As per government data, cardamom worth Rs 410 million was exported from Terhathum last year. A study conducted by the Ministry of Agricultural Development reveals that cardamom is cultivated on 14,206 hectares nationwide.

The Eastern Region accounts for more than 95 percent of the output and exports. More than 66,000 farmers and their families are engaged in growing cardamom in the Eastern Region.

- Courtesy of The Kathmandu Post