Strong prices boost Indian cardamom 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 local report 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 a 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 growers with up to four hectares would be given 33% of the cost as subsidy, while those with an area above four hectares and up to eight hectares would be provided with a 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 in India is below 300kg. However, the yield per hectare of Njallani ranged from 500kg to 1,000kg.Most of the areas under cardamom consist of old varieties with low yields and therefore in need of replanting with high yielding varieties.

An estimated 75,000 hectares are under cardamom plantation in the country. Kerala tops both in terms of area and production 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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