High-intensity southwest monsoon that set in early this year has wreaked havoc in the plantation sector of Kerala, with cardamom and tea crops suffering most damage. Rubber tapping in the state has also come to a near standstill amid continuous showers.
The extent of the damage will be reflected in production in the next few months, according to growers. “Rain accompanied by strong wind has been intense and widespread over the entire cardamom belt in Idukki, ruining cardamom plants at a time when picking for the new harvest had begun,’’ said PC Mathew, General Secretary of Cardamom Growers Association.
Large cardamom based agroforestry systems in the Eastern Himalayan region is a multifunctional system predominantly managed by the smallholders as their adaptive traditional practice since time immemorial. Due to its ecological resilience, social acceptability and mountain specific niche cardamom has been described as high value, low volume and nonperishable cash crop. In addition, it is less labour intensive and non-nutrient exhaustive system compared to other systems. The system bestows multifunctional attributes such as ecological and economic sustainability and well being of the upstream as well as downstream communities through a number of ecosystem and environmental services. While the cardamom growing communities and the agroforestry system requires appropriate policies and institutional supporl to overcome the threats and challenges. The higher net primary productivity rates and carbon fixation rates of the alder cardamom system also contribute to the mitigation of climate change".
Cardamom harvest season, which usually begins in July or August, got advanced to June this year because of abundant summer rains. For the past one year, cardamom has been fetching Rs 800-1,000 per kg despite good production thanks to robust export demand.
As the damage is likely to be extensive, the output could drop significantly,’’ Mathew said. Cardamom exports were hit last month owing to the tightening of pesticide checks by Saudi Arabia, the top buyer. The estates of two big southern tea companies Kanan Devan Hill Plantations Company and Harrisons Malayalam have suffered losses from the heavy rains.
Krisjhi Jagran/New Delhi