Following the government’s announcement to buy unsold cardamom, farmers in Sarpang and Tsirang are waiting for the change to take effect.

One of the farmers in Chudzom gewog, Chabilal Ghimeray, said the rate government offered at Nu 550 a kilogram was fair. “But considering the hard work put into cardamom farming from planting to weeding, harvesting, drying and packing, Nu 550 is less.”

Chabilal Ghimeray harvested about 10 mon (40kg) cardamom this year. Although he has already agreed to sell it to an agent, price has not been decided yet. He said that if he fetches between Nu 25,000 to Nu 30,000 a mon, the labour charge and other additional cost incurred during the process of plucking and packing will be recovered.

He said farmers paid labour charge of Nu 600-700 for harvesting and Nu 150 for shelling cardamom.

“When you calculate all, Nu 550 a kilogram is less,” he said.

Although not a satisfactory price, farmers are still eagerly waiting for the government to buy the unsold stock, he said.

December was the right time for the government to buy, they said.

Another farmer, KB Tamang, has about 280kgs of cardamom. Although he was late in being listed when the agriculture official collected names of farmers willing to sell unsold stock, he is hopeful the government will buy all unsold stock. “It is an easy and convenient market for us,” he said. “I hope the government buys it within this month.”

He said farmers expected hands on cash from the government because it was only cardamom that fetched cash income for farmers. All activities such as buying cattle, constructing house, shopping for students are done with income from cardamom.

Sarpang’s assistant dzongkhag agriculture, Chimmi Wangchuk, said that the dzongkhag submitted a list with at least 22MT of unsold cardamom. Most of the farmers who agreed to sell at the government rate are from Chudzom in Sarpang.

“Most farmers have already sold their produce and those who have not sold are the ones awaiting a price hike,” he said.

An average of about 2,000MT of cardamom was harvested from Chudzom gewog alone. Of that, farmers assume that at least 1,000MT has been already sold to the agents in Gelephu. Some of the agents are Indian merchants.

In Tsirang, the dzongkhag agriculture officials submitted a list stating that about 12MT of cardamom was unsold. This is the stock farmers are willing to sell to the government at Nu 550 a kilogram.

“The total production is much higher but most farmers have already sold it,” dzongkhag agriculture officer Dorji Gyeltshen said.

He also clarified that the government would buy from those farmers who have been listed recently. Budget will be calculated based on the availability of unsold stock.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang