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A. The Emerging Trends in Cardamom Production

A. The Emerging Trends in Cardamom Production

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THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



367



than 225% over the base year. Record productivity of 173 kg haÀ1 was

achieved in 1999–2000 due to better varieties and improved crop practices

(Spices Board, 2000).



4. Growth Estimates

In order to get summary measures of long‐term trends in area, production, and productivity of cardamom in India, semilogarithmic equations are

estimated. The decadal growth rate showed that there was a positive growth

rate of 0.2% and 0.1%, respectively in the 1970s and 1980s. It was –1.9% in

the 1990s with regard to area. Production had a positive growth rate in all

the three decades, but it was the maximum of 8.3% in the 1990s. The figures

for productivity are a matter of major concern, as it has direct bearing on the

cost eYciency and profitability of cardamom cultivation. The estimated

negative growth rate in area and positive growth rate in production in the

1990s indicates the improvement in productivity, that is, with less area under

the crop more of production is achieved.

Table XLVII gives data on state‐wise area, production, and productivity.

It shows that that the cardamom belt of India is located in the Western

Ghats regions of the Kerala State, Karnataka State, and Tamil Nadu.

Kerala State accounts for the major share of area and production of cardamom in India, and this has remained more or less unchanged over the last

three decades. Karnataka State stands second, followed by Tamil Nadu.

Over the years productivity per unit area has gone up both in Kerala State

and in Karnataka State, but declined in Tamil Nadu.



5.



Production Constraints



The major reasons attributed to low productivity of cardamom in India

are:

1. Recurring vagaries of climate, especially drought and absence of irrigation practice.

2. Absence of regular replantation. In the mixed cropping system, as for

instance cardamom and coVee, the farmer is contended with the additional income from the companion crop and is not disappointed with the

lowering of yields in the main cardamom crop due to aging. Replanting

with improved varieties would have led to better yields.

3. Deforestation and resultant changes in the ecological conditions prevailing in the growing area—leading to conversion of cardamom land to

other competing crops such as black pepper.



368



Table XLVII

An Analysis of State‐Wise Area, Production, and Productivity of Cardamom in India

Kerala

Period



1980–1981



1990–1991



1997–1998

1999–2000Ã



Tamil Nadu



India



Variables



Actual



%



Actual



%



Actual



%



%



Area (ha)

Production (t)

Productivity (kg haÀ1)

Area (ha)

Production (t)

Productivity (kg haÀ1)

Area (ha)

Production (t)

Productivity (kg haÀ1)

Area (ha)

Production (t)

Productivity (kg haÀ1)

Area (ha)

Production (t)

Productivity (kg haÀ1)



55,190

21.30

38.59

56,380

3100

54.98

43,826

3450

78.72

43,050

5430

126.13

41,522

6550

213



60.33

67.19



28,220

805

28.53

28,220

1000

28.22

31,605

800

25.31

21,410

1240

57.92

25,882

1950

103



30.81

25.39



8070

235

29.12

9350

300

32.09

6123

500

81.66

5360

480

89.55

5047

790

205



8.81

7.41



91,480

3170

34.65

93,950

4400

46.83

81,554

4750

58.24

69,820

715

102.41

72,451

9290

173



60.01

70.45

53.74

72.63

61.66

75.94

57.31

70.51



30.03

22.73

38.75

16.84

30.66

17.34

35.72

20.99



Source: Spices Statistics (various publications), Government of India, Spices Board, Cochin, Kerala State.

Note: Yield is arrived at by dividing total production by area; (Ã) midterm estimate.



9.95

6.82

7.51

10.53

7.68

6.71

6.97

8.50



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



1970–1971



Karnataka



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



369



Table XLVIII

Quinquennial Averages of the Indices of Area, Production, and Productivity of

Major Commercial Crops (1960–1961 ¼ 100 base)

Rubber

Period

1960/1961–1964/1965

1965/1966–1969/1970

1970/1971–1974/1975

1975/1976–1979/1980

1980/1981–1984/1985

1985/1986–1989/1990

1990/1991–1994/1995



CoVee



Cardamom



Black Pepper



A



P



Y



A



P



Y



A



P



Y



A



P



Y



111

139

165

187

236

276



131

258

448

569

647

930



117

185

270

304

274

336



106

131

128

166

194

213



101

157

209

266

293

388



95

126

163

159

151

182



100

126

140

165

185

211

148



113

113

120

160

273

320

173



113

91

84

97

146

150

167



100

99

117

109

106

144

181



93

85

94

91

97

152

182



93

86

80

84

91

105

101



Source: Radhakrishnan (1993).

Note: A, area (ha); P, production (t); Y, productivity (kg haÀ1).



4. Lack of eagerness among planters to adopt high‐production technology,

although better varieties and practically proven package of practices is

available to enhance yield level up to 600 kg haÀ1.

5. Problems of pests and diseases.

6. Remote location of plantations.

7. System of land tenure which does not allow long‐term planning for

improvement by the actual producer who works on the land (Anon,

1996; Cherian, 1977; George, 1976).

a. Comparative Picture of Area and Productivity of Cardamom with

Other Plantation Crops. CoVee, black pepper, and arecanut are the other

plantation crops raised along with cardamom. A comparative picture is

given in Table XLVIII.



6.



Cost of Production



Productivity and cost of production play crucial roles in deciding competitiveness of the product in the global market. Compared to India, the cost

of production of cardamom in Guatemala is much lower. This is because of

first, higher productivity and second, lower wages for labor. Productivity in

India was a mere 47 kg haÀ1 in the 1980s, when it was 91 kg haÀ1 in

Guatemala. Guatemala obtains more than 200 kg haÀ1 (dry capsules), whereas

in India, it is only 120 kg haÀ1. This in itself gives Guatemala a cost advantage

of more than 255%. Guatemala has an advantage over India from cost of

production also. For instance production cost was just about US$1 a kg

during the 1980s in Guatemala, while in India it was double (Bossen, 1982).



370



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



Consequently, Guatemala has been able to edge out Indian cardamom

from world market. The price of cardamom from Guatemala in recent

years has been around US$5–7 kgÀ1 lower than that in India and the quality

of the produce was quite comparable with that from India. Such advantage

helped the exporters from Guatemala to penetrate markets earlier held by

India. Advances in cardamom‐production technology helped India increase

productivity per unit area. The highest yield achieved is 2475 kg haÀ1 in

Idukki district of Kerala State in 1999–2000 by a farmer and other farmers

have achieved yields more than 1400 kg haÀ1 (Korikanthimath, 1992).

However, the labor component in the production cost, which accounts for

more than 60% during the establishment stage of the plantation, and more

than 40% thereafter, in the total cost of production makes Indian cardamom

a lot more costlier in the international market. Studies have shown that

expenditure on labor has a positive correlation with yield haÀ1 (Mahabala

et al., 1991). The present estimated cost of labor in India varies from Rs 150

(approximately US$4) to Rs 200 (approximately US$5) to produce 1 kg

depending on the cropping system followed. Thomas et al. (1990) have concluded that low productivity and high cost of production vis‐a`‐vis stiV competition in the international market rendered Indian cardamom less competitive

and subsequently unremunerative for the planters. Due to nonavailability of

skilled labor for harvest and postharvest handling, including on‐farm processing, employment of unskilled laborers resulted in less recovery of 19% only as

against the desirable recovery of 25%. Thus, an avoidable postharvest loss of

around 6.8% is also responsible for reduction in productivity.



7.



Domestic Market Structure and Prices



Cardamom trade in India is a regulated trade. Cardamom Rules (1987

Licensing and Marketing) was introduced to streamline the system of marketing in general and bringing about control in the form of restricting the entry of

persons into the diVerent functional categories, namely exporters, dealers, and

auctioneers. The declared purpose of such regulation is to ensure a fair price

for the product and the timely payment of sale proceeds. Export marketing

of cardamom is regulated by the Spices Board (Registration of Exporters)

regulation 1989. The Spices Board issues the following certificates or licenses.

1.

2.

3.

4.



Cardamom dealer licenses

Cardamom auctioneer licenses

Certificate of registration as exporter of spices

Registration‐cum‐membership certificates to exporters (RCM).



Market Intelligence OYcers have been posted in important marketing/

auction centers to collect reports on crop purchase, sales, movement, and

price trends.



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



8.



371



Price Analysis



Analysis of the structure and behavior of farm prices is of considerable

interest in the context of finding ways and means for increasing production

and productivity. Prices often act as a guide to indicate the change in

production decisions.

Cardamom is a moderately storable export commodity. Long‐term storage is not possible as in the case of black pepper. This necessitates market

clearance within the crop year, thereby ruling out speculations. Within these

limits, the formation of prices in the domestic market takes place in the

following manner. Depending upon the length of the summer, severity of

drought, premonsoon showers, and the quantum of rainfall during June–

July period, well‐experienced traders forecast the crop size and its prospects

for the forthcoming season. This is aided by the fact that many of the dealers

and exporters of the crop are themselves cardamom planters. If the expected

production is much lower than the normal production, a significantly higher

price than that which ruled the season past, is set at the beginning of the

season itself. If, on the other hand, the production is much higher than the

normal production, a much lower price is set (Nair et al., 1989).

Export value of cardamom usually depends on its major quality aspect of

color. Traders are keen to acquire as much as possible of the output in the peak

harvest season as high‐quality harvest (with good color) comes in the middle of

the season. This is what makes for the peak prices in the peak harvesting season,

which in turn, becomes the peak sales period. This period is broadly between

September and December. An investigation by Joseph (1985) indicates that the

export price leads the domestic price with a lag of about 1 month. But, according to Nair et al. (1989), although there is trend synchronization between export

prices and auction prices, a month‐to‐month correspondence does not hold.

However, there exists an asymmetry, that a rise in the export price is not always

paralleled by a corresponding increase in the domestic price, whereas a fall in

the export price is transferred entirely to the domestic price.

The estimated growth equation indicated that while auction prices have

registered an average annual growth rate of 6.8%, both the wholesale and

export prices increased at the rate of 6.4% during the period from 1971 to

1997–1998.



B. EXPORT PERFORMANCE



OF



CARDAMOM



Historically, cardamom began to be cultivated in India as an export

crop with little attention to domestic consumption. Until the end of 1960s,

the crop was in the sellers market in world trade and India was the leader

in production and export. Guatemala stepped up its production from



372



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



mid‐1960s and began capturing India’s international market in the Middle

East, where cardamom is a priced spice. In India, export peaked in 1985–

1986 at 3272 million tons, representing a growth index of 191.91, where

69.62% of the domestic production was exported and in the 1977–1978,

while India could only export 2763 million tons, Guatemala exported 3610

million tons, capturing world’s number one position as exporter, edging out

India. With further increase in production in Guatemala, India’s export has

been seriously aVected. The lowest export from India at 180 (mt) was in 1989–

1990, which was just 5.81% of the total production. Indian export was in

proportion to the quantum produced until 1985–1986. Thereafter export

remained low with consecutive fall in export during 1986–1987 and 1987–

1988. Although the level of production went up, the quantity exported

remained low. The gap between production and export started widening

and the trend continued. At present, cardamom production in the country is

maintained only on local consumption. During this period, there was a heavy

export from Guatemala and India was simply edged out from the international

market. Even export promotion schemes, such as air freight subsidy to the

Middle East, where there was a big market for Indian cardamom, exemption

of cess (a levy by the government on export trade) and export assistance of Rs

35 kgÀ1 (about US 85 cents, which according to Indian scale of economy is

quite a substantial figure), could not help in enhancing export from India. The

trade trends of cardamom in India are that almost all of the production is

absorbed by the domestic market. The eVorts of Spices Board had a positive

eVect on domestic consumption. Consequently, the enlarged domestic market

could sustain the cardamom industry during the years in which international

prices were low. Occasionally, although due to enhanced domestic demand,

prices went up above that of international market. Although it is a good sign

for the cardamom industry to depend on the domestic market, there is yet

another problem involved in it. Since export accounts comparatively only

for a portion of the total production, the prices are influenced more by the

strong internal demand than by external demand. In the 1990s the highest

domestic price paved the way for smuggling cardamom from Guatemala

through Nepal into India and an estimated 2000 t came into the country

through this manner (Anon, 1998). The smuggling trade continues and this

has developed into a big menace where local producers are adversely aVected

and the government has been unable to check this menace eVectively, as, there

is always a ‘‘hand‐in‐glove’’ design in such enterprise.



C. DIRECTION



OF



INDIAN EXPORT TRADE



Until the end of the 1980s, more than 80% of Indian cardamom export

was to the Middle East, which accounts for over 50% of world import.



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