Agriculture: Flower and kitchen gardens in the south are being overrun, not by weeds or pests, but by cardamom plantations.

Most houses in Norbuzingkha village of Tsendagang gewog in Dagana have cardamom planted in their kitchen gardens, and even in what was once prized flower gardens.

Khinamaya Gurung, 31, who was adding manure to her cardamom garden, said that the plant grows better than vegetables. “I started planting cardamom last year and I was able to buy a water boiler for our family with the first harvest,” said the mother of two, with a smile on her face.

She pointed out that with vegetables, some rot since her small family can’t eat the entire harvest, and the spoilt produce has to be fed to animals. “But with cardamom we can sell it, and not only buy the basic necessities but save some amount as well,” she said.

Khinamaya decided to switch to cardamom after seeing her neighbours cultivate the plant on a large scale and reap high profit.

While cardamom plants don’t provide much fruit in the first harvest, Khinamaya is satisfied that she was able to get two and a half kilogrammes of the spice. She sold the spice for Nu 750 a kilogramme and was able to afford the water boiler.

She is expecting better harvests from next year and has planted 100 more cardamom plants. She paid Nu 10 for each plant.

Like Khinamaya, Laxman Pradhan, 46, has also replaced the flower garden in front of his house with cardamom plants.

Laxman, who owns a shop at Norbuzingkhag, pointed out that flower gardens only serve an aesthetic purpose, while cardamom plants provide both an aesthetic and income generating purpose.

“Growing cardamom is easier than growing flowers and vegetables,” he said. Laxman explained that the cardamom plants don’t require much care and only have to be weeded thrice a year.

He has planted 130 cardamom plants in front of his house, and has convinced his wife to replace the other flower gardens around the house with cardamom as well. Most of the flowers have already been transferred into flower pots.

He said that cardamom is easy to sell as buyers even come to their doorstep to enquire about the spice.

There are more than 100 households in Norbuzingkha and the majority are dependent on cardamom as their main cash crop.

Yeshey Dema | Dagana