Darla gewog has been unable to identify what pesticide would address the cardamom blight in the locality, according to gup, Mil Kumar Mongar.

He said that the gewog office and the agriculture officials help farmers by providing various training on plantation standards.

But farmers in the locality call it a bad year for cardamom, as the yield was poor.

Rinchen of Chumilakha village said he cultivated cardamom on his two-acre land in 2015. “I was supposed to harvest the first yield this year but I couldn’t.”

He said he planted 2,200 cardamom plants but more than half dried.

The farmer said he invested more than Nu 50,000 to plant the saplings. “The cost would be more if I included other costs.”

Rinchen is not alone.

Jamuna Devi Karki said her family shifted their farming practice five years ago and focused on cardamom, assuming it was lucrative.

“But I harvested only 30kg of cardamom,” she said. “The cardamom plants have turned unhealthy with leaves turning red and brown.”

Another resident, Phuntsho Wangmo, said she grew about 500 plants on her 50-decimal land and managed to harvest only 10kgs.

She said the income she earned from selling it was not enough to pay the labour charges.

Farmers in Darla say it was the rain, hailstorm and sunlight that damaged the cardamom.

They claim they were attracted to plant cardamom as a bag of cardamom fetched Nu 1,200 to 2,000 few years ago.

Gup Mil Kumar Mongar, however, said that the price dropped almost by 75 percent this year. “But the current prize of Nu 500 to 550 a bag in Phuentsholing is still better than other crops”.

Meanwhile, another village in Darla, Kelzari, was not affected by the blight. Cardamom plants are green and disease free.

A farmer, Yourity Mukhia, who owns 200 plants around her house, said she and her husband harvested 80kg of cardamom this year.

A farmer explained that sunlight does not directly fall on the Kelzari hill. “This gives the advantage of shade to the cardamom plants, which helps the plant grow healthy,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Darla