THODUPUZHA: The increase in the demand for cardamom has brought cheers to the farmers in Idukki, even as they are skeptical about the stability of the price.
Idukki district has a huge share in Kerala’s cardamom production, which, of late, has been facing crisis owing to summer heat, said a farmer.
Kerala constitutes about 67 per cent of the total cardamom production in the country, of which Idukki’s contribution is huge.
In 2010, the price of cardamom was over `1,500 per kilogram. However, it slumped to `700 over a period of time, and now hovers around `1,000.
According to Manoj, a farmer and an associate
of Biofarm, an SSI unit promoting cardamom cultivation, the farmers are still skeptical about the price stability.
Manoj expressed concerns over the government’s indifferent attitude towards fixing a benchmark price for cardamom.
“We have been demanding this for long,” he said.
The cardamom sector is facing lots of problems, including climate change, increase in labour charges, pest and fungus attack among others.
The cost of maintaining a cardamom farm has gone up steeply. In such a situation, the government could imagine the anxiety of the farmers if the price keeps fluctuating, he said. “The labourers are paid `250 per head for working from 8 am to 3 pm. We also tried employing migrant labourers. However, they are not as efficient as the natives. The use of machines for plucking cardamom is not a solution to this issue,” he said.
With the intention of promoting cardamom farming, Biofarm has been engaged in creating awareness among the farmers. It had conducted a seminar at Ramakalmedu the other day hilighting the adverse impact of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides, Manoj said.
He said most of the farmers were highly impressed by the suggestion to adopt organic farming, which has made wonders in cardamom cultivation.
“Indiscreet use of chemicals had reduced the soil fertility. Organic fertilisers have helped in reviving the natural properties of the soil, he said.
The production per acre, which was 500 kg under chemical farming, has gone up to over 1 tonne after adopting organic farming, he said.
Manoj said around 500 farmers were making use of the services provided by Biofarm free of cost.
However, he said, all
these things were not being rewarded by the governm-
ent in the form of fixing a benchmark price for cardamom.