Dechen Dolkar

Cardamom prices in Gakiling and Sombaykha gewogs in Haa have doubled after almost five years.

Gakiling and Sombaykha gewogs are the major cardamom producers in Haa.

However, persistent pest, diseases and climate change-related issues are reportedly leaving farmers disinterested to grow cardamom.

Samdrup, 53, from Sombaykha, said that cardamom price is better this year.

Forty kilograms of cardamom, he said, fetch around Nu 40,000. Last year, he could manage to get only around Nu 17,000 for the same quantity.

“The price has been decreasing since 2019 and we have been selling at much lower prices,” he said.

The reality is that the production of cardamom has also decreased compared to the previous years—by almost 50 percent.

“Heat has affected the leaves of the cardamom making it to low yield,” said Samdrup.

Similarly, Pema Gyeltshen, 45, from Gakiling, said that this year, the price of cardamom shot up drastically.

He said that last year he fetched only about Nu 12,000 for forty kilograms of cardamom, and this year, 1kg of cardamom fetches around Nu 1,000 in the market.

However, Pema Gyeltshen is not happy with the current price of cardamom.

Pema Gyeltshen said that last year, he harvested around 800kgs of cardamom from his field and made around Nu 400,000 from the sale.This year, he expects to harvest only around 400kgs.

Wang Tshering, Gakiling gup, said that out of five chiwogs in the gewog, three—Rangtse, Dorithasa, and Sektena focus on cardamon cultivation.

The gup said that due to the decrease in the price of cardamom, farmers are now growing Mandarin orange.

However, pests are affecting both mandarin and cardamom.

The farmers said that cardamom leaves turn pale, their tips become yellow and leaves gradually fall, which they say could be due to climate change.

Currently, farmers in Gakiling and Somabaykha gewogs are in the process of harvesting and drying their cardamom.

They sell their cardamom through the Samste border town.

According to the agriculture survey report 2021, the harvest of cardamom in the country was 1,542 MT in 2018 and 1,609 MT in 2021. However, the harvest area over the years has decreased from 21,395 acres in 2018 to 11,599 acres in 2021.