Gelephu cardamom farmers lack market

With only two registered cardamom traders and the traders not offering the prices as desired, cardamom farmers in Gelephu are now facing challenge to market their cardamom.

One of the traders has refused to accept the crop from the farmers, while another trader has reportedly refused to pay not more than Nu 400 per kilogram of cardamom.

Farmers say that they don’t have the liberty now to choose the traders for better price in the market.

Meanwhile, Gelephu is the center of cardamom trading business for farmers of central Bhutan. Cardamoms from Sarpang, Dagana, Tsirang and Zhemgang are brought here every year.

A farmer in Sarpang, Bhola Rai said that the farmers earlier used to sell the product to Indian traders operating businesses in Gelephu. But now they are not accepting the product from them.

“With the current prices that are being offered, it will be a huge loss for us and our entire effort will be wasted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the current price of cardamom in Phuentsholing is Nu 450 per kg.

Farmers say as the cardamom yield is reportedly on the decline, the lower rate offered would be a blow to them.

Bhola has brought around 40kg of cardamom to Gelephu to explore the price. He had planned to help his father who has 880kg of cardamom at home in Gakiling gewog, Sarpang.

Sun Bir Rai, another farmer, said not receiving the expected price would discourage the farmers from continuing the activities. “Already, the crops are failing and also It’s difficult to find customers for our products,” he said.

The farmers say they were also unaware of the Food Corporation of Bhutan’s ‘Buy Back Scheme’ where it bought back cardamom from farmers.

A local businessman, who deals with cardamom, said exporters are reluctant to buy as it’s off season. Also, farmers come with small quantities which will not suffice or make up the required load for export outside.

“It will be a loss for the traders with small quantities as they have to be kept until it meets the load requirement for export. Some will be destroyed by pests resulting in loss,” he said.

Meanwhile, a trader in Gelephu said farmers are paid according to the existing market rate.

Madan Oli, a registered trader, said the rate depends on the quality of the product that is being brought to the market. He says he pays up to Nu 450 per kg.

“We are accepting cardamom, but they are demanding higher rates which we cannot afford,” he said.

Meanwhile, the cardamom season will start from autumn when new harvest reaches the market. From there, more exporters and traders are expected to be in the market.    

Krishna Ghalley from Gelephu, Sarpang