Cardamom is commonly known as “Queen of spices”. And commercial cardamom farming is a profitable business even for small land owners. Cardamom is one of the most highly priced and exotic spices in the world. Generally, there are two types of cardamom you can find. One is small cardamom and another is large cardamom. Here in this post, we put a detailed guide for starting a small scale cardamom farming business.
The botanical name of the small cardamom is Elettaria cardamomum Maton. And it belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. Some of the major cardamom growing countries are India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nepal, and Bhutan. Kerala (70%), Karnataka (20%), and Tamil Nadu (10%) are the major cardamom producing states in India.
Economic Importance Of Cardamom Farming
Cardamom is a premium spice globally. There are several food processing industries where cardamom is an essential flavoring ingredient. The commercial part of cardamom is the fruit (capsule) of the plant. It is considered to be a versatile spice, as it is used in both sweet and salty foods.
Additionally, the spice has the great export potential. Indian cardamom enjoys a premium preference in the Middle East, Japanese, and Russians who relish it for its distinct enriching properties. Saudi Arabia is the largest market for Indian cardamom with a share of around 60% followed by Kuwait, UAE and the USA.
Apart from the seeds, there is an another application of cardamom. And that is cardamom oil. The oil is an essential item in the processed foods, tonics, liquors, and perfumes. The fruit also finds significant usage in Ayurvedic medicines for dental infections, digestive disorders, etc.
Health Benefits Of Cardamom
- Cardamom helps the body eliminate waste through the kidneys.
- The spice relieves acidity.
- additionally, it is useful for curing dental diseases and urinary tract infections.
- Cardamom is rich in various vitamins and micronutrients.
- Furthermore, cardamom contains antimicrobial properties.
Things To Consider In Commercial Cardamom Farming
- Cardamom cultivation demands specific agroclimatic condition. So, check this before you plan on growing cardamom.
- In addition, select the right variety carefully. According to the demand and your marketing policy, you must choose the right variety.
- Commercial cardamom production demands long-term planning. generally, cardamom comes to bearing 2-3 years after planting. So you have to prepare for the mid-time capital investment.
- Generally, there are some of the price influencing factors in cardamom trading. These are freshness, color, aroma, and size. So you must be careful in those aspects.
Best Varieties For Cardamom Farming
Commercially cultivated varieties of small cardamom are Mudigere 1, PV 1, CCS 1 and SKP 14 (for Karnataka) and ICRI 1 and ICRI 2 for Kerala and Tamil Nadu. However, there are other varieties that are recognized by Indian Spice Board. These are Malabar with prostrate panicle, Mysore with erect panicle, and Vazhukka with semi-erect panicle.
Agroclimatic Condition For Cardamom Farming
Cardamom grows in areas receiving an annual rainfall of 150-400 cm. Additionally, the herb prefers the temperature of 10 – 35 QC and altitude 600-1500 m above mean sea level are ideal. However, you can grow cardamom under greenhouse condition.
Suitable Soil For Cardamom Farming
Cardamom prefers forest loamy soils. Usually acidic and PH balance 5.0 – 6.5 is perfect for this plant. However, you can grow cardamom in evergreen forests with organic matter enriched the surface soil. In addition, soils rich in N and low to medium P and K are ideal. However, you have to arrange the good drainage facility.
Commercial Cardamom farming Basic Steps
You can grow cardamom both through seeds and vegetatively. Vegetative-method is better for large-scale production. However, for small-scale farming, you can grow from seeds. In this case, you can raise seedlings in the nursery beds. And those become ready for plantation after 8 to 10 months.
You can transplant the seedlings in the rainy season. Generally, cloudy days with light drizzles are ideal for planting. You must avoid deep planting. Because it results in suppression of growth and causes the death of plants due to decaying of underground rhizomes. Cardamom requires a steady supply of moisture and will not tolerate drought. Cardamom is not tolerant of cold. However, you must keep the plants in a location with many hours of partially occluded sunlight.
Generally, cardamom responds very well to organic and inorganic fertilizers. According to the fertility of the soil, you can apply NPK. Additionally, you can apply neem oil cake. It is advisable to craft the fertilization schedule according to the deficiency factors of nutrients in the soil.
Frequent irrigation at 10–15 days intervals is necessary during the summer months. Regular irrigation (25mm–37.5mm/irrigation) helps in the initiation of panicles, flowering and fruit set. However, you must maintain the soil moisture level always above 45–50%. You may also go for drip irrigation.
You must take the preventive measures against disease and pest attack. However, some of the potential harmful diseases are Nursery leaf spot, Nursery leaf rot, Damping off or seedling rot and Clump rot (Rhizome rot).
Some of the harmful pests and insects attacks are Rhizome weevil (Prodioctes Haematicus), Shoot fly (Formosina Flavipes), Shoot borer, Root grubs (Basilepta Fulvicorne), Spotted red spider mite, Cutworm (Acrilasisa Plagiata) and Plant parasitic nematodes.
Harvesting & Yield
Cardamom plants start bearing fruits in the 2nd or 3rd year of plantation. The fruits mature at 30–40 days intervals. Harvesting starts from August to September and continues up to February to March. When fruits are in the ripped stage, you can start harvesting. You can expect an average yield of 500 kg/ha dry capsules. The post-harvest operation consists of washing, pre-treatment with chemicals, curing, cleaning, grading and packing.
Commercial cardamom farming is a financially profitable business. However, It demands patience and strategic planning to get long-term success from the farm.