Giving an example of her own constituency, the Member of Parliament (MP) from Sombaykha, Dorjee Wangmo, said that almost 80 percent of farmers in Sombaykha and Ghakiling gewogs in Haa are dependent on cardamom as the main source of income, but the poor yield and price of cardamom since last year has affected them badly.
She said, “When farmers could make a decent earning from cardamom, farmers thought that it was wise to invest in cardamom, but after taking huge loan from banks and investing in cardamom the price for cardamom started declining gradually. The farmers are now having difficulty in paying the loan.”
She informed the House, during the question and hour session of the National Assembly, that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should revise the cardamom buyback scheme and asked the government to look into possible steps to export cardamom at higher price.
The Agriculture Minister, Yeshey Penjore, said that in the past about 10 years ago, 1 kg of cardamom would fetch Nu 1,000 because during that time not many neighbouring countries were growing cardamom.
Lyonpo said, “There are two different kinds of cardamoms, and the cardamom that fetches high price is called black small cardamom and it is widely cultivated in India. Bhutanese grow big brown cardamom which fetches less price. People should go after cardamom that fetches higher price.”
Lyonpo said that given the cost of production at Nu 292 per kg, the market price of Nu 450 is not too low. “Our farmers are not incurring loss,” he added.
He also said that the government or Bhutan Food Corporation Limited (FCBL) will buy cardamom from farmers at Nu 350 to Nu 400 per kg if the situation worsens.
The ministry is also talking with the dzongkhag officials and trying to look into measures to grow cardamom that fetch a higher price.