Indian cardamom growers in Idukki set to expand plantings

CARDAMOM growers in Idukki, India, have been encouraged by the higher prices seen in the current season to take up replanting in those estates where the plants were destroyed by drought last year.

According to Joseph Kalluvettikuzhiyil, a grower in the district, replanting has taken place in around 1,000 hectares and more areas would be replanted in the coming years.

A report on the Indian website Commodity Online said the growers are further motivated by the announcement by the Spices Board that 25,000 hectares would be replanted during the 11th Plan period. The board will provide subsidy for replanting and under the scheme 5,000 hectares would be replanted every year in the next five years.

The replanting cost per hectare is estimated at Rs128,000 ($3,257)and the growers having up to four hectares would be given 33% of the cost as subsidy, while those having area above four hectares and up to 8 hectares would be provided with 25% subsidy, the board said.

Most of the growers prefer the Njallani variety developed by a planter in Idukki district some time ago as it has proved to be high yielding besides being drought-resistant, Mr Kalluvettikuzhiyil said.

The average yield per hectare is below 300kg in the country. But the yield per hectare of Njallani ranged from 500 kg to 1,000 kg. Most of the areas under cardamom are of old varieties, with low yield and requiring replanting with high yielding varieties.

An estimated 75,000 hectares are under cardamom plantation in India. Kerala tops both in terms of area and production of cardamom followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Kerala is estimated to have 42,000 hectares under cultivation, while Karnataka has around 27,000 hectares and Tamil Nadu around 6,000 hectares.

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