Cardamom farmers hopeful as price augments

Farmers into cardamom cultivation are hopeful of doing a good business this time as cardamom price has finally started to increase after more than a year.

The price per kilogram has now reached Nu 780 for big cardamom, which was recently Nu 550. The price for local cardamom has reached 700 per kilogram and this week it has gone up to Nu 800 per kilogram.

A trader, who directly buys the cardamom from the framers, said the resuming of exports to third countries have resulted in the increase in price.

Cardamom is mostly exported to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Dubai, among others. Traders say that the price is likely to increase further with the export resuming to these countries.

“But we cannot guarantee anything. It’s very unpredictable,” a 51-year-old trader in Phuentsholing, Nanda Lal Chaudhary, said.

The unavailability of cash payment from the importers and the impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) were the main reasons for the slump in cardamom price earlier. But with these problems resolving gradually, the price has now augmented.

Within a year when the cardamom price plummeted to a record low in recent times, traders say that not much could be exported outside due to fewer demands lowering the price too. Cardamom price, which reached up to Nu 1,500 per kilogram before a few years ago, had dropped to Nu 550 per kilogram last year.

Another trader said cardamom price is determined by the demand from the foreign counterparts. The price never remains fixed for long. “The price has recently shot up to Nu 800 this week as there were demands.” Mitlesh Kumar, 40, said.

Many traders said they incurred losses from cardamom earlier.

“We paid the farmers expecting higher returns but have ended up selling at lower prices. Cardamom price is very unpredictable. The price differs for the old and new yield. The new yield, however, fetches lower rate than the old one,” another trader said.

Meanwhile, farmers are now heaving a sigh of relief after a slump in cardamom price for over a year given that most of the farmers rely on cardamom as the prime source of household income. The price, meanwhile, has started increasing from December last year.

“We had once lost hope from cardamom as the yield also started declining. Now, with the rise in price, our hope is gradually rising,” Karna Bdr, a 32-year-old farmer from Chomchay in Phuentsholing said. He sold 120 kilograms of cardamom this year.

Another farmer from Chongeykha said the increase in cardamom price is good news after a yearlong wait.

“We depend on cardamom for everything and people have forgotten other farming practices. If the price continues to slump, we may have to return to farming,” farmer B.L. Chhetri said.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing