Just as farmers were anxiously waiting for the cardamom price to improve and its export hassles resolved, the government has announced that it would buy back the unsold stock from farmers across the country.

With cardamom-marketing season at its peak, farmers of Chudzom gewog, one of the highest cardamom-producing places in Sarpang is vigilant about the rise and fall of the price. The approximate price today in Gelephu is between Nu 19,000 and Nu 20,000 per mon, which is about Nu 500 a kilogram.

Most farmers in Chudzom have not sold their cash crop yet. It has been a month since harvest and farmers are waiting for the price to increase. One of the farmers waiting for the price hike is KB Tamang. He has about 280kgs of cardamom.

He said that last year he sold the cardamom late, sometime in January and fetched Nu 31,000 per mon.  He is expecting the same this year and has not sold the harvest. “Cardamom price keeps fluctuating, while we wait we might fetch a lower price sometimes,” he said.

On the government’s announcement of buying back-unsold stock from farmers at Nu 550 a kilogram, KB Tamang said that it’s a fair price in comparison to the market price from agents in Gelephu. 

As soon as the gewog agriculture extension officers conveyed the message to farmers on the government’s announcement, farmers in Chudzom got together to discuss, KB Tamang said.

“We feel that it’s a great initiative from the government,” he said. “It the highest price we look forward to.”

The department of agriculture issued a notification on December 10 instructing dzongdags to instruct agriculture officers to register farmers willing to sell their unsold stock.

According to the notification, the government will buy back the unsold stock for Nu 550 a kilogram. “In this regard, we are instructed to reconfirm the quantity of cardamom that the farmers are wiling to sell to the government,” the notification states.

However, the government has four particular criteria that farmers need to meet. The cardamom should be new harvest (not older than three months) and should be true type or one variety. The other two criteria include properly dried product and should not be adulterated (not mixed stock or mixed with old stock).

Agriculture extension officer of Chudzom LB Chhetri said the message has been conveyed to farmers. Farmers have been informed that it is not a forced implementation but an initiative to help farmers have a proper market for their produce. “It is the stock they are not able to sell in open that they can sell to the government,” he said.

Another farmer Dawa Tshering, 65 said that fulfilling the criteria is not an issue. Not being able to sell cardamom is also not an issue but fetching a good price is a concern. “There isn’t an issue of not being able to sell cardamom, we expect better price whoever buys it,” he said.

Dawa Tshering has harvested about three mon this year. He harvested the same last year and sold it for Nu 26,000 per mon in February.

According to the notification, the dzongkhags need to submit the list of farmers willing to sell their produce to the government latest by 9am of December 14.  “Dashos may note that we’ve to submit the final list along with budget estimate to the government on December 15,” the notification states.

Nirmala Pokhrel  | Tsirang