Cardamom Information Sheet

Cardamom (Amomum sabulatum Roxb), is an herbaceous perennial cash crop, and also referred to as “Queen of Spices”. It is cultivated in an altitude range of 600 m and 2,000 m above sea level where annual rainfall is between 1,500 to 2,500 mm and the temperature varies from 8° C to 20° C.  Economic yield starts from 3rd years onward after planting and its optimal yield period is 8-10 years. The total life span of Cardamom plants is about 20-25 years.There are sixteen varieties of Cardamom in the world. Among them five types of Large Cardamom are in farming practices across Nepal-Ramsey, Golsey, Sawney, Chibesey, and Dammersey.

Due to increased demand in the international market and favorable climatic condition, Cardamom has become a major cash crop for farmers in the mid hills in the last two decade. At present an estimated 12, 000 ha in over 40 mid-hills are under Cardamom cultivation with estimated annual production of 6, 000 metric tons. Cardamom oil is a precious ingredient in food preparations, perfumery, health foods medicines and beverages. Cardamom seeds are astringent, tonic, appetizer, and diuretic. Large volume of dried but un-graded Cardamom is traded in Indian and markets.

Harvesting and Post Harvesting Activities

The yield starts from 3rd years onward after planting. Fruit is ripped during August to November. Harvesting is done with the help of mechanical instruments e.g. knife. After harvesting, Cardamom capsules are separated manually by hands.

The harvested fruits are processed mainly using traditional or improved drying technology (bhatty). The existing traditional practice of curing and drying the Cardamom is age-old types, where the capsules are dried by direct heating in the traditional bhatty. Under this system the Cardamom comes in direct contact with smoke and turns the capsule to dark browner black color with a smoky smell. To reduce smoke and produce light purple capsules, improved bhatties are being introduced.

Drying and Curing
After 18 to 24 hours of drying, the capsules are removed. But the total time of drying varies depending on factors such as fire management, initial moisture content of the capsules,weather condition and bhatty structures.

There is no clear indicator to decide if the drying process is complete or not. In some cases, the capsules are either over-dried or under-dried at the same condition of fire and weather. Sometimes the farmers feel that the product is over-dried and they sprinkle water to increase weight. This practice leads to difficulty in maintaining consistent quality. In Taplejung district, there is a provision of premium price for improved bhatty products but prices also vary depending on tail-cut, moisture content, color and the level of dryness.

Although it varies from place to place, and variety to variety, about 26 kg of Cardamom (dry) is produced from 500 sq m (a ropani) of land.  Similarly, the total cost of production per ropani is in the range of NRs. 2,800 to 3,400.

Market Channel
The Large Cardamom produced in is exclusively sold to Indian markets (Siliguri). Delhi and Amritsar are the potential markets in . Beside this, is a good export opportunity for the Large Cardamom.

  • Collector – District Traders – Regional Trader – Indian Traders
  • Collector – District Traders – Indian Traders
  • Collector – Village Trader – Regional Trader – Wholesaler – Traders

Trade Volume
According to trades’ information, a total of 6,014 tons of Cardamom was traded in 2003/04. In monetary terms it was worth of NRs 1.26 billions.

Trade Variation
Fluctuating prices and uncertainty of market (final) of Cardamom are the major problems facing the farmers. In 1999/00 the price at farmers’ level was about NRs. 300 per kg, whereas in 2003/04, it became about NRs. 150 per kg.

Wholesale Price  of Large Cardamom (at Nepal–India Border)

As reflected in various studies, the factors that influence the price are various qualities of Cardamom especially color, size, percentage of moisture content, presence of smoke and tail-cut.