Geyzing, 28 Sept:
The dwindling prices of large cardamom this year have come as an unexpected shocker for the farmers from West Sikkim involved in cardamom farming for a long time. A maund (40 kg) of the cash crop is currently fetching Rs.16,000 to Rs.17,000, an all-time low which the farmers said the drastic fall in the price was unexpected and they may lose the investment made on cardamom farming.
Cardamom is the major cash crop of the State and many farmers find the cardamom farming lucrative ensuring good returns and the demands of cardamom in the national and international market mostly remain high.
On the sudden dip in cardamom prices, some farmers of West Sikkim expressed that the crop failed to get the market this year as export facilities have been disrupted due to Covid-19 crisis worldwide. They added that lack of demands and an effective corridor for exporting cardamom to national and international markets owing to the pandemic-induced worldwide lockdown could have led to sudden fall in cardamom prices. The farmers hope that the crop will get its due value once Covid-19 crisis gets over and markets open for larger trade activities.
The fall in cardamom prices have hit the farmers worst, especially those who depend solely on cardamom farming apart from other farming practices as a form of livelihood. Most of the farmers have collected their harvest this year and were prepared to sell their produce expecting reasonable hike in prices. Some farmers termed the unexpected fall in cardamom prices as a discouragement and an urgent call for shifting to other farming activities.
A farmer said he had expected to fetch a good return from cardamom farming that would have helped him to overcome the financial constraints that he was facing. He added that he had depended upon cardamom cultivation as he was not able to actively take part in other livelihood based activities this year due to the pandemic.
“Sudden decrease in price of cardamom has disappointed the farmers who have invested in the cardamom farming with a hope of a healthy return. The dwindling prices of cardamom have definitely discouraged the farmers,” a cultivator from HeeGaon said.
Another farmer maintained that since last two years he gave up cardamom farming as the farming was turning out to be less profitable with the prices always fluctuating casting doubts on the cultivators of losing their capital invested in the farming.
“We used to get Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 70,000 for 40 kg of cardamom each year but fall in the prices since 2018 has compelled the farmers to opt for other farming practices. Falling prices of cardamom each year is pushing the cardamom farming in the State practiced since decades on the verge of extinction. We are concerned that Sikkim will lose its unique identity as a major cardamom producing State in the country very soon,” the farmers said.
The farmers of West Sikkim have appealed the State government to come to their aid to overcome the possible loss in cardamom farming owing to lack of reasonable prices for their produce. They opine that they will wait for consideration on the prices of cardamom and want the State government to review the matter on a serious note. They say that they will suffer a huge loss in the farming if the price of cardamo