Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing
Cardamom price this year has not improved after it plummeted in the beginning of the year.
Today, the market price is between Nu 450 and Nu 460 per kg for the large cardamom and between Nu 410 and Nu 435 for the small ones.
The best price farmers fetched was about Nu 570 per kg in October 2018 and Nu 840 early last year.
In 2014 and 2015, cardamom fetched between Nu 1,500 and 1,700 per kg.
The good cardamom days seem to be long behind, exporters say.
A local trader, Singey Wangdi, said there was still cardamom in the fields across the country but the rates failed everyone. Most farmers depended on this spice for livelihood, he added.
“The rate has become like a disease,” he said.
Marketing manager with Tshering Export, Changa Dema, said the main problem was that there was no demand.
“There is demand in Pakistan but our Indian parties say the trade is closed,” she said, adding this was the reason why demand in India has dipped. “All we export remains in India only and there is not much demand.”
Changa Dema, however, said the production was increasing these days.
This time round, there is more production from Trongsa, including production from the eastern parts of the country.
Tshering Export exports to both Bangladesh and India. The export house sells cardamom at Nu 480 to Nu 500 in Siliguri.
Meanwhile, the floor price of cardamom to Bangladesh is USD 7,500 per metric tonne (MT). Considering the current exchange rate, a kg of cardamom would fall at around Nu 525.
Exporters say the price at the local market does not depend on the floor price. It depends on the price the market offers.
A senior official from an export company that exports to Bangladesh, Tika Sharma said it was the market problem that led to drop in the price.
“Market has to offer but it does not now,” he said.
As per the current price, exporters make a profit of Nu 50 per kg, out of which Nu 20 is invested for transportation.
Today’s floor price of USD 7,500 per MT in Bangladesh has also decreased from USD 11,000 just a year ago. Three years ago, it was USD 25,000.
Meanwhile, there are not many Bhutanese players in the market dealing with cardamom export both in India and Bangladesh. This has led to several problems, exporters say.
Some say there are middlemen from both India and Bangladesh who manipulate the local market price.
Farmers are also attracted by these middlemen by offering higher rates but manipulating the weight of the produce.
“A few kgs of cardamom would be reduced while weighing; without the farmer’s knowledge” one dealer said.