Neten Dorji | Shongphu

Four years ago, 58-year-old Aleo started growing cardamom in about an acre of land.  He brought saplings from Arekha, Chukha. Not a single seedling survived but he did not give up.

But farmers in the south were making fortunes selling the crop. On the second trial he could harvest 360 kg of cardamom and made Nu 130,000.

Most farmers in Shongphu, Trashigang are growing cardamom. The gewog agriculture sector gives 400 saplings to each household.

A villager, Tashi Dorji, started growing cardamom about the same time as Aleo. Last year, he made Nu 97,000 from the sale of cardamom.

“It is labour intensive but brings in good income,” he said.

With good road connectivity, market isn’t a problem.

Another villager, Tshering Needup, planted cardamom in eight-decimal. He sells a kg of cardamom for no less than Nu 400. “I made about Nu 11,000 last year.”

Tshering Needup is already planning on going big.

Maize is the main cash crop for Shongphu famers. Most of the famers are trying out cardamom farming as an alternative source of income.

Shongphu chiwog’s tshogpa, Nima Dorji, said about 70 households in the chiwog had taken up cardamom farming.

The soil is fertile and the water is abundant. Climate conditions are ideal for growing cardamom and all kinds of vegetables.

Gewog agriculture extension officer, Nim Dem, said that about 36,756 cardamom saplings were distributed among the farmers for the establishment of cardamom orchard between 2017 and 2018.

“Farmers of Changmey, Chaling and Galing have also started growing cardamom,” she said

This has, some say, contributed to reducing fallowing of land in the villages.