Large Cardamom is only grown in Nepal, Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan.

Large cardamom prices have hit a new record of Rs 2,500 per kg due to rising demand amid slowed production, said the Large Cardamom Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal. Fine graded cardamom currently costs Rs 2,400 per kg in the market, and the price is climbing.

“A drop in production coinciding with increased demand has pushed up prices,” said Rajendra Bhattarai, chairman of the association. “Despite the decreased output, there will be no dip in revenues in foreign exchange due to the increased value,” he added.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), Nepal exported 4,913 tonnes of large cardamom valued at Rs 4.27 billion in the last fiscal year.

The spice is one of the high value cash crops and export commodities. It is grown only in Sikkim and Darjeeling in India, Bhutan and Nepal. Farmers said that prices were expected to soar further due to increased demand. Cardamom prices normally rise during the main harvesting season (July-September) and the slack season (December-May).

The harvest season starts in July and continues until September. During this period, transactions reach a peak, creating immense competition among buyers which pushes up prices.

Large cardamom prices had plunged to Rs 1,000 per kg in 2011. Since then, prices have been rising gradually, reaching Rs 2,250 per kg in August.

Large cardamom is one of the major contributors to Nepal’s foreign exchange earning. India is a major market for large 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 the last fiscal year, the government registered a collective trademark for cardamom which will be promoted as Everest Big Cardamom.

After the trademark is registered, Nepali products can be exported directly to potential overseas markets and they will be able to get better prices, said Bhattarai. “However, Nepal needs to ensure better quality with proper processing and packaging to make the product marketable in the global market.”

Nepali products used to be marketed under Indian brands earlier, and farmers did not get reasonable prices.

- Courtesy Kantipur.com