Agriculture: Farmers of Shongphu village in Trashigang are trying out cardamom farming as an alternate source of income. In the last two years, 32 households in the village planted more than 18,000 cardamom seedlings.

Maize is the main cash crop for Shongphu farmers. A farmer, Sonam Tshering, said that the cardamom seedlings were planted on a trial basis. “We want to see how cardamom farming fares in our village. We will see how they grow, and the labour requirements and earnings from the crop for the next few years.” he said.

Sonam Tshering said that farmers in Samtse, Sarpang and Tsirang have prospered through cardamom farming. For the people of Shongphu, depending entirely on maize for income is becoming difficult.

“Better income would mean better education and better lives for our children. If farmers in the south can do it, we thought of giving it a shot,” he said.

Another farmer, Aelo, said that he planted about 15 saplings in 2012. Last year, he harvested about 5kgs of cardamom.

“In Phuentsholing, I sold them for Nu 1,500 per kilogramme. The income is good,” he said

Aelo said he bought cardamom seedlings at Nu 14 per seedling from Phuentsholing and Samtse. In the last two years, he has planted about 4,000 seedlings.

“We picked up the idea after observing other farmers,” he said. “Should we take it up on a larger scale, we will need crops, soil and climate knowledge. Some exchange programmes from the government would help us greatly.”

Shongphu Gup Kinzang Wangdi said that farmers in the other villages in the gewog have also started taking up cardamom farming. “Farmers in Changmey, Galing and Chaling chiwogs have also planted thousands of cardamom seedlings in the last two years.”

Tshering Wangdi |  Trashigang