Despite resolving the problems of exporting cardamom from the border town in Phuentsholing, the price of the spice is yet to improve. The market price as of yesterday is Nu 450 to Nu 460 per kilogram (kg).

While some suppliers and exporters indicate that market manipulation by few as the cause of the low price, they are also confused about what actually impacts the market.

The market rate in Siliguri ranges from Nu 500 to Nu 520, exporters said.

A supplier, Tashi, had come from Samdrupjongkhar with more than 500kgs of cardamom to Phuentsholing yesterday.

“There are no buyers there,” he said, adding that he was bringing in the sixth lot of spice yesterday. “The price is low and I have no idea why is it like this.”

Tashi, however, would still profit if he sold what he brought as he paid Nu 420 to farmers. He has a stock of two metric tonnes (MT) of cardamom in Jomotshangkha.

The highest cardamom price in recent times was reported towards October end last year. Farmers fetched Nu 500 to Nu 525 per kilogram. Siliguri price ranged from Nu 550 to Nu 570 then.

An employee with an export firm said there is less demand for cardamom in both India and Bangladesh.

“But the prices are like this during this time every year,” he said, adding that the prices would rise by end of February and towards March this year. “It is a festival season.”

The current floor price of cardamom exported to Bangladesh is USD 7,500. Exporters say it would make about Nu 521.25 per kg. However, with costs incurred in transportation, packaging, and availing bank services, there is not much profit, exporters say.

An exporter, Singey Wangdi said the price is not increasing due to manipulation in the market in Phuentsholing.

“With schools reopening soon, farmers have started to call me,” he said. “But they are asking Nu 500 a kg, which I would not be able to pay due to the market price.”

Singey Wangdi said there are people from across the border actively involved in cardamom supply and trading in Phuentsholing. “They manipulate the price.”

Meanwhile, farmers are waiting for the government to buy their cardamom, as announced last December.

They say the government has not yet started buying.

The agriculture ministry had estimated that about 380MT of cardamom were still with the farmers and declared to buy them the same month.

Gups in Chukha and Samtse told Kuensel they have submitted to the agriculture offices the list of farmers, who were wiling to sell cardamom to the government.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing