Sikkim, which grows 90 per cent of the country’s cardamom, is moving towards e-auction of the high-value aromatic spice whose export market is set to grow following the launch of the Sikkim Organic logo in the state.
Spices Board Chairman A.Jayathilak said that fortnightly auctions, facilitated by the Board, has helped farmers increase their earnings from the crop, whose prices have improved from Rs.250 per kg in 2010 to Rs.1,600 now.
From November 2015, Spices Board has been providing the growers with pricing information, pre-empting local middlemen who pay them less, Mr Jayathilak said.“We text them market price all weekdays over mobile phones through our database of 500 growers of black cardamom across Sikkim,” he said, referring to the ‘Digital India’ mission. “We also put up the changing prices on our website. That is in English, but the SMSs are in Nepalese language as well,”he said.
The price-rise has had a cascading effect on large-cardamom growers in other states in the Northeast besides Uttarakhand. The Spice Board Chairman, who was in Sikkim in connection with Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling of of ‘Sikkim Organic’ logo, also organized a buyer-seller meet (BSM) to facilitate farmers to sell their products directly to the exporters, according to a statement.
The major spices grown in Sikkim have been tested for intrinsic qualities and pesticide residues at the Board’s laboratory in Mumbai. The results confirm that spices grown in Sikkim are rich in intrinsic parameters and had vast export potential as organic products.
The Board has been playing a key role in promoting organic spice farming in the hilly state.