‘Organic’ brand to boost export of large cardamom: Spices Board

Kochi / Gangtok, Jan 25: India is all set to find more demand for its large cardamom in the international market now that Sikkim, which produces a chunk of this highly-valued spice, has been declared an organic-farming state, according to Spices Board.

Organically-grown large cardamom may be priced higher than its fertiliser-fed counterpart, but the former has burgeoning premium-class consumers abroad whose number is increasing of late, said Dr A. Jayathilak, who is chairman of the governmental agency.
“Discerning users are willing to pay the extra money,” he emphasised, noting that organically-raised large cardamom was another initiative under the present government’s Make in India mission which aims to make the country a global hub of indigenously-developed products.

India exported 665 tonnes of large cardamom in 2014-15. In the first half of the current fiscal, the powerful flavouring spice endemic to a certain section of the Himalayan terrain has earned the country Rs 2,011.50 lakh in the international market, statistics show. Sikkim, which grows large cardamom in 17,000 hectares of land, produces 4,000 metric tonnes (90% of the country’s production) of the spice annually.

Dr Jayathilak was in Gangtok last week to attend a function where Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared Sikkim as India’s first organic farming state. Kochi-headquartered Spices Board, which functions under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, had designed the ‘Organic Sikkim’ logo that was released on January 18 in the presence of that state’s chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling amid a host of leaders and top officials.

“Our message to farmers is this: ‘You become exporters’. It is simple but strong,” Dr Jayathilak said today. Spices Board has a team of 50-odd employees working in Sikkim to not just sustain organic farming but empower the growers to earn more from their produce in the coming years.
“The work of our personnel is multi-disciplinary. We do not just marketing, but research, spread of information, linkages between farmers and mediations to resolve issues,” he added.
Large-cardamom cultivation will get further boost in the six months from now as Spices Board is set to launch an e-platform for its famed fortnightly auction in Sikkim’s traditional spice market of Singtam. This is in accordance to the Digital India campaign, Dr Jayathilak said.

“The idea is to cut down on middlemen. This will ease the post-harvest flow in the trade of the crop,” he added. “The Singtam auctions (on from 2010) have already had an impact in the national prices of large cardamom, with farmers getting six time more prices than what prevailed five years ago.”

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