Concerted efforts of Spices Board fetch black cardamom higher prices in Sikkim

Concerted efforts of Spices Board fetch black cardamom higher prices in Sikkim

Submitted by Subeditor on Tue, 2016-01-19 19:24 Gangtok: Sikkim's famed black cardamom has of late been giving its farmers a major economic boost, with the price of the endemic crop soaring more than six-fold in the past five years owing to intelligent intervention and grass root efforts by Spices Board. The tiny hill-state, which grows 90 percent of the country's black cardamom commonly called badi elaichi, currently sells it at around Rs 1,600 a kg vis-a-vis Rs 250 in 2010, through auctions of the crop facilitated by Spices Board every fortnight at the state's market hub of Singtam in east Sikkim, according to top officials. Added to it, from November 2015, the Spices Board has been feeding the crop's growers with the prevailing price in Sikkim, largely prompting a chunk to avoid local middlemen who customarily pay them less, points out Dr.A. Jayathilak, Chairman of the Board. "To ensure fast spread of the price info among the farmers, we text them market price all weekdays over mobile phones which all of them have these days. We have a database of over 500 growers of black cardamom across Sikkim, where it is called 'thulu elaichi'," he says, referring to the 'Digital India' spirit of the mission. "Even as that number is increasing swiftly, we also put up the changing prices on our website. That is in English, but the SMSs are in Nepalese language as well." The price rise has had a cascading effect to the benefit of large-cardamom growers in other states in the Northeast besides Uttarakhand, added Dr A Jayathilak. The chairman has also organized a buyer-seller meet (BSM) to facilitate Sikkim farmers to sell their products directly to the exporters. Over 40 spice farmers and 22 exporters/traders from across the country are taking part in the BSM which provides a platform for the spice growers of Sikkim to establish direct trade linkages with exporters/traders by avoiding middlemen. The major spices grown in Sikkim have been tested for intrinsic qualities