Farmers of Tashithang in Dagana’s Gesarling gewog are busy this season, harvesting and drying cardamom.

Tashithang is one of the biggest cardamom producing chiwogs in the whole of Dagana.

According to the chiwog tshogpa, Kharga Bahadur Subba, all the 83 households in the chiwog have planted cardamom in more than 60 percent of their land. Many farmers here have turned at least 80 percent of their land into cardamom orchard.

“People gave up paddy cultivation because of water shortage. And cardamom grows well here,” he said.

A class XII dropout, Ganesh Subba, 27 produces the largest amount of cardamom. He and his nine-member family own 11 acres of cardamom orchard. It has been almost a week since Ganesh began harvesting with a dozen helpers. Other members of the family are busy drying the crop in the traditional oven known as bhaati in Lhotshamkha.

Ganesh expects to harvest at least 1,600kgs of cardamom this year. He harvested about the same quantity last year.

“The crop is our main source of cash income,” he said.

But he is often worried about the falling price of the crop. From Nu 700 per kg in 2016, the price dropped to Nu 570 per kg last year. This year, the price is expected to drop further.  Moreover, a new disease, locally known as ‘furkary’, has affected the crop. The disease leaves the bottom part of the capsule without seed.

Budbal Subba, 25, is another farmer who grows cardamom in more than three-acre land. In last five days, six men could harvest just one third of the cash crop.

“I’m expecting at least 15 helpers and hope to complete harvest in about 10 days from now,” he said.

The young farmer said that although rewarding, growing cardamom is a tedious job. Budbal expects a harvest of at least 280kg this year, 80kgs more than what he did last year. He made Nu 115,000 from the crop.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Dagana