Falling yield puts farmers in distress
Khotang, May 14
Cardamom production in Khotang district has been declining over the years due to the prolonged drought and pest infestation.
Jivan Sunuwar of Sipteli at Baksila VDC-3, Khotang sold just 2.4 quintals of cardamom this year while the number stood at 4.4 quintals last year. Similarly, Ratna Bahadur Sunuwar of Sipteli at Baksila VDC-3 had been harvesting up to 11.2 quintals of cardamom on a yearly basis. This year, however, he collected a mere 0.6 quintal of cardamom.
The yearly decline in cardamom production has been attributed to infestation of pests. “The production, over the years, has declined on such a massive scale that we’ve almost lost hope as most of the plants wilt due to pest infestation,” said Jivan.
Sipteli of Baksila is famous for cardamom cultivation. Locals said cardamom farming in the village began decades ago.
As per the locals, cardamom production in the village was good till 2009. A local said pest infestation and wilting of cardamom plants had hit production since the past four years. “Earlier, cardamom bushes covered the village fields. I had never thought that cardamom production would decline thus,” said Jivan.
Seeking remedy to the problem, farmers had reached the district agriculture office. They, however, did not get any support. “When we visited the agro office at Diktel and apprised them of the problem, they gave us pesticides. But, they refused to come and inspect the fields,” lamented Jivan.
Maniraj Sunuwar, a local farmer, demanded that officials of the agro office inspect the fields and suggest them a solution.
Khotang chairman of Cardamom Entrepreneurs’ Association, Bir Bahadur Tamang, said infestation had affected cardamom production across the district. According to the association, cardamom plants have dried up at Baksila, Phedi, Ratanchha, Banjhechyandanda, among many other VDCs of the district.