20 March 2018
Large Cardamom is a high value crop whose production is unique to Nepal, north-east India and Bhutan. Studies show that Nepal has the highest share in large cardamom production. Inside Nepal, Eastern Development Region has high share in production with Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam and Sankhuwasabha producing 80% of the national production although people from 37 districts are involved in its farming (ICIMOD, 2016).
Cardamom production and sales have been a strong contributor in these districts to improve the income of the people. But time and again, the farmers face different problems and issues such as crop diseases and fluctuation in market price. Some of the problems can be resolved by the practice for improved cardamom production, which is currently being promoted by UNNATI project.
As a part of the package of practice for improved cardamom production which is being supported by UNNATI programme; the practice of vermi-composting has been introduced in the cardamom fields. As an introduction of this new technology, a farmers’ group was supported in Tharpu-3, Panchthar district through an agreement done with the community to implement community based overall technology promotion programme in cardamom cultivation. The programme is being implemented on a cost sharing basis, in which 30% of materials costs is borne by the community.
Tharpu is a remote location situated in norther side of Panchthar. It has the production area covering about 50 hectares where the average yield reported is about 18.4 Mts with an average yield of 0.37 mt/ha (DADO Statistics). There is further scope to improve the yield through adoption of improved technology as farmers are using traditional method of cardamom production.
The vermi-culture compost preparation and demonstration program organized at Tharpu focused primarily on the demonstration of improved production practices of cardamom through Lead Resource Persons. The demonstration was organized by members of Sunakhari Farmers’ Group. The event was attended by 30 farmer members of the group including 8 female farmers. The events also worked as a campaign for promotion of the improved production practices in cardamom producing pockets involving most of the cardamom producing farmers in the area.
During the event, the method of preparing compost using improved
strain of earthworm was demonstrated to the farmers. The method consisted of construction of pit for composting, preparation of materials like green biomass (chopping), cattle dung slurry etc. adding/mixing layers of soil, dung slurry, green material and earthworm systematically.
The vermi compost supports the cardamom cultivation through supply of essential nutrients for the crop with availability of high quality soil nutrient. It contains 3 times more the plant nutrient than simple traditional compost. Due to remoteness of the community and distance from markets, the plant fertilizer availability is one of the main constraint in agricultural crop production. The vermi composting uses the improved strain of earthworm which utilize the locally available materials to produce high quality compost/manure. The compost contains both macro and essential micro nutrients for healthy plant growth and crop yield. Thus, it is expected that the practice of vermi composting will go hand-in-hand and support for the better cardamom production yielding more benefits for the farmers.