Low price and dying cardamom plants have forced Dophuchen (Dorokha) farmers to return to the age-old tradition of maize farming.

The farmers had once opted for cardamom over maize.

Two years ago, Tsheten, 24, from Namchu village had cardamom plants around his house. He had even used his kitchen garden to grow cardamom.

He said he cultivated cardamom for four years but did not see a proper harvest.

“This year I uprooted most of them,” he said, adding he just remembered harvesting three kilogrammes once.

Tsheten said he tried cardamom after seeing people generating good income. “It is not the same anymore.”

In Maneygaon, Jhimki Maya Gurung, 56, has also lost hope in cardamom.

She and her son have replaced all her fields with corn this year.

Unlike cardamom, Jhimki Maya said corn could also be used as fodder for the cattle.

She said that she had earned about Nu 100,000 selling cardamom in the last four to five years. Her family had also spent an amount equivalent to what they made in nurturing cardamom.

Another farmer said people only concentrated on cardamom cultivation and there was an imbalance in the farming culture.

“Cardamom is not benefitting now,” the farmer said, adding it was also expensive and time-consuming.

He said people should concentrate more on corn, millet, wheat, mustard, and paddy. “Maybe in some years, farmers could try cardamom again.”

Another villager, Ugyen Tshering, said cardamom price surpassed all other cash crops between 2012 and 2014. “Then the price started to drop.”

He said along with the price, even the harvest has drastically decreased due to some diseases.

Ugyen Tshering said he has not seen the government doing any surveys or specific studies on cardamom cultivation and diseases.

Rajesh Rai | Dophuchen