Agri Business

Need to improve, sustain cardamom production

| Updated on March 12, 2011


Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton) is a perennial tropical herb and is referred to as the ‘queen of spices'. It belongs to the ginger family and is considered the third most priced spice after saffron and vanilla. Cardamom is a native of India. It is used as a flavouring agent in various processed food, tonics and perfumes. It is also popularly used as a therapeutic agent.

India was a leading producer of cardamom till Guatemala took over in 2002. Guatemala, with a production of 20,000 million tonnes (mt) in 2010, is the largest producer accounting for about 60 per cent of global production. The other major producers are India, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

India is second in global production with 15,500 mt in the year 2008-09, in an area of 92,000 hectares. While there has been a notable increase in the productivity in India which is around 168 kg/hectare from 53 kg/hectare in 1989-90, it still lags behind Guatemala which yields 350 kg/hectare.


There are two types of cardamom — small cardamom and large cardamom. The major States growing small cardamom are Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Kerala accounts to 76 per cent of small cardamom production with only 56 per cent of the total area. Idukki, in Kerala is the major cardamom producing district with the prominent centres of production being Udumbanchola, Peermedu and Devikulam.

Karnataka accounts for 15 per cent of the total production with Shimoga the major area for cardamom cultivation. Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb) is cultivated in the sub-Himalayan region of north east India in cold, humid conditions.

The two major States in the production of large cardamom are Sikkim (89 per cent) and West Bengal (11 per cent).

Indian cardamom is sold in the international markets in different grades such as ‘Alleppey green extra bold' (AGEB), ‘Alleppey green bold' (AGB) and ‘Alleppey green superior' (AGS), which have an appeal worldwide.

Important centres for cardamom trade in the country are Kochi and Thodupuzha in Kerala, Sakleshpur, Mercara, Madikeri and Mangalore in Karnataka, Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur and Kolkata.

India exported 12-15 per cent of its total cardamom production. The export volume in 2009-10 stood at 2,975 mt valued at about Rs 185 crore.

The major export destinations included Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Pakistan and the UK. India imports around 5,000-6,500 mt of cardamom annually to stabilise domestic prices.


India is the second largest consumer after Saudi Arabia for small cardamom. Global consumption is 15,000-24,000 mt and the domestic demand is around 11,000 mt.

Approximately 45 per cent of cardamom is used for industrial consumption especially in pharmaceutical, ayurvedic and cosmetics industry.

The average prices of large and small cardamom in 2009-10 were Rs 267/kg and Rs 1,078/kg respectively.


The cardamom prices have increased in the past few years and were at all time highs due to shortfall in production. The prices for cardamom generally stabilise after August as the harvesting begins. In general, prices of cardamom follows 4-5 year cyclical pattern where prices tend to move up every fourth to fifth year.

The Spice Board of India, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is responsible for the development and promotion of Indian cardamom. In addition to trade assistance to exporters, the Board assists the farmers in training for best agricultural practices, promotion of value addition and organic cultivation, and monitors quality aspects.

The Government has allowed future contract of commodities under the Forward (Regulation) Contract Act, 1952 and cardamom futures are allowed to be traded in exchanges such as NCDEX, MCX and NMCE.

India being a traditional cardamom growing country needs to draw clear strategy to regain its leadership position in the international market.

There is an urgent need to improve and sustain production by increasing the average productivity.

Capacity building programmes for better post-harvest practices and development of disease-free tissue culture planting with improved genetic material needs to be undertaken.

Source: YES Bank

Published on March 12, 2011

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