Training held on “Installation and maintenance of improved cardamom dryer"

11th July 2018

Large Cardamom is an important cash crop Nepali farmers and Nepal is largest exporter of black cardamom in the world. Besides production of the cardamom capsules, another important process is drying of the cardamom by the farmers in improving the overall quality of the cardamom. Farmers get lower price due to the poor quality of the cardamom produce.

Farmers are using old traditional dryers which lower the quality of the capsules due to direct contact of smoke with cardamom. It results in capture of smell of smoke by cardamom capsules, cracking and blackening. Besides the traditional dryers cause health hazards like damage to eyes, loss to farmers because of catching fire and getting burnt, consumption of huge quantity of firewood and time consuming (24 to 48 hours) to dry the capsules.

 A new improved type of dryer, wood combustor dryer has been developed by a scientist in India and successfully tested by Nepal Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) under National Commercial Agriculture Research Programme in eastern Nepal. The dryer does not allow the capsules to come in contact with the smoke and maintains natural reddish colour and sweet fragrance. This in addition to non-cracking of capsules the quality of the cardamom dried is better. The dryer consumes lesser quantity of firewood and reduces health hazard to farmers. In overall, the improved dryer improves the quality of the cardamom capsules fetching a higher price to farmers that other traditionally dried cardamom and also enhances quality to exportable level.

Singha Bahini Engineering Works and Energy Private Limited has been a recipient of UNNATI Challenge Fund under the sub-project “To promote the improved cardamom dryers in seven eastern hill districts” through research, innovation, demonstration, training and capacity building activities.

Under the same sub-project supported by UNNATI Programme, the Private Limited conducted a training to 26 resource persons/lead farmers from cardamom growing blocks/areas of seven hill districts, namely, Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Bhojpur, Sankhuwasabha, Terhathum and Dhankuta. The training was held for 2 days from 3rd – 4th Asar 2075 (17th to 18th June 2018) in Itahari, Sunsari district and included different sessions like sharing of characteristics of traditional dryers, pros and cons, introduction to new dryers and its components, advantages, methods to install new dryers, operation and maintenance in future, issues to be considered while using them. Other session included producing and maintaining high quality cardamom at local level by an Agricultural Expert, Dr. Govinda Pd. Timsina. The participants also received training from other trainers, Mr. Krishna Man Sainju (Agriculture Engineer) and Mr. Manish Bista (Mechanical Engineer).

A half day practical session was included and held in the factory of the Pvt Ltd in the nearby location imparting knowledge on use of tools in installation and maintenance of the dryer.

Responding to request of the trainee participants, one more session on disease/pest identification of cardamom crop, sanitation measures of orchard etc. was also delivered by the Agriculture Expert adding more time to schedule.

It was also briefed that the improved dryer uses only 1 kg of fuel wood to dry 3 kgs of wet cardamom capsules whereas the traditional dryers consume 3 kgs fuelwood. The improved dryer is ISO certified and it can be customized to different sized as per need of the farmers and can also be used for drying ginger, garlic, chillies, radish and others thus making it more attractive to farmers.

Mr. Tanka Prashad Timsina, Managing Director of the Pvt. Ltd during the opening session remarked that the dryer would not have come to Nepal if UNNATI has not supported and so far 100 pieces have been sold. During the follow up after sales, he found all the users satisfied with the dryers due to advantage over the traditional dryers. 50 more orders have been received from different districts and more queries are coming in from other potential customers. A new round model has been recently developed and is under testing stage. He also told that he received support from UNNATI when he needed most to develop and promote the dryers to benefit cardamom farmers. He is not satisfied yet and will continue to work on improving the current model and test other models by his factory in future.

From UNNATI programme, Mr. Laxmi Krishna Amatya, M&E Specialist and Mr. Kedar Dahal, Senior Agri-Business Specialist also were present during the training sessions and briefed the participants on the UNNATI Programme and its activities in cardamom and other value chains. They also expressed their pleasure to the commitment of the trainees that after returning to their places, the trainees will transfer the knowledge and skill gained from the training to other cardamom farmers in the area.