The Spices Board has provided financial assistance to the tune of R7.21 crore to more than 23,000 farmers
The loss to the cardamom crop due to deficient rainfall and high temperature is likely to be up to 20-25% during the crop season of 2016-17, state-run Spices Board said on Thursday. The damage to the plants in Idukki district due to drought-like conditions is about 5-10%. India is the second largest producer of cardamom in the world after Guatemala and the biggest consumer of the spice.
Kerala is the highest contributor of cardamom to the country, with a share of around 70% in the total production, with Idukki accounting for the lion’s share.
The withering of leaves and leaf sheaths was observed in a large number of cardamom plants. In some extreme cases, even tillers and panicles had completely dried up in severely affected plantations, A Jayathilak, chairman, Spices Board, pointed out.
“The long dry spell from December 2015 to the first fortnight of May this year had adversely affected the cardamom plantations in Idukki district, as this period is critical for the development of tillers and panicle initiation. The impact of a long dry spell may affect the production and productivity in the ensuing season and the fluctuating weather is not considered a favorable sign for the cardamom farmers,” he added.
Cardamom plants are very sensitive to rains with productivity directly related to the volume of rains and the number of rain days. Cardamom needs low temperature, high humidity and incessant drizzles.
Heavy rains could damage the crop, while intermittent rains that keep the atmosphere humid augur well.
The Spices Board has provided financial assistance to the tune of Rs 7.21 crore to more than 23,000 farmers from the Cardamom Development Fund Trust.
“The decision to provide financial assistance to 23,232 farmers , reeling under a fall in prices, high cost of labour and increased prices of fertilizers and pesticides , was taken after making field observations and feedbacks obtained from individual farmers, farmers’ associations and Spices Board officials. The erratic weather had severely affected the yield and plant loss of cardamom,” Jayathilak said.
Board data shows production of small cardamom during 2014-15 pegged around 18,000 tonne from 69.970 hectares. Exports of cardamom during 2015-16 are pegged at 5,938 tonnes as compared to 4,371 tonne during 2014-15.