Kerala’s cardamom farmers making a strong comeback

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on December 24, 2018 Published on December 24, 2018

The industry sees a one-third drop in production this season compared to last year’s production of 25,000 tonnes   -  THE HINDU

Growers taking up replanting activities, but sceptical about output

Undeterred by the rain that lashed Kerala in the second half of August and the floods that followed, cardamom growers in the State have resumed their farming activities with most of them going for replanting and rejuvenation of the spice crop in Idukki region.

It may be recalled that growers had suffered a production loss of close to 60 per cent as fungal disease (in the form of capsule rot) and tiller decay affected the crop badly.

Sadasiva Subramaniam, Secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Association, told BusinessLine that replanting and rejuvenation have already started in Udumbancholla taluk of Idukki district with the expectation of a better harvest next season (June-July period). The replanting will be carried out on nearly 10,000 hectares, while rejuvenation was on around 6,000 hectares.

Banking on drip irrigation

However, the failure of the North-East monsoon in many parts of Tamil Nadu, which has a rain deficit of nearly 40 per cent, has forced farmers to depend on drip irrigation incurring additional costs. There are different types of drip irrigation and the cost could go up to ₹1 lakh/ha. Farmers are, therefore, seeking irrigation subsidy from the State government.

“We have submitted application before the Spices Board for a replanting subsidy of ₹70,000/ha,” Subramaniam said.

V Unnikrishnan, Senior Vice-President (Plantations), AV Thomas Group of Companies, said that cardamom prices are holding at ₹1,300/kg on an average. But sufficient quantity is not available due to strong domestic demand. The harvesting is in the final phase for the financial year and nearly 80 per cent of the production has been already harvested.

Crop loss

According to PC Punnoose, CEO, Kerala Cardamom Processing and Marketing Company, the sector is anticipating a one-third drop in production this season compared to last year’s production of 25,000 tonnes. However, the possibility of a higher production in the next 2-3 years will be remote due to the loss of soil fertility, as the top soil was washed away in the rains. Dry weather is prevailing in many of the growing areas due to paucity of the N-E monsoon rains. Moreover, it would take at least two years for the new crop to flower after replanting, he said.

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Published on December 24, 2018
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