Doable Technology

Doable Technology - Large Cardamom-The Pride of Sikkim

   Family: Zingiberaceae       Genus: Amomum       Species: subulatum

      Rs. 12 crores) in the world

Productivity- 175 kg/ha



Soil: Well drained sandy loams having pH range of 5.0 and 6.0

Shade requirement: 30-50 % shade is optimum. Therefore, grown under the trees utis (Alnus nepalensis), chillone (Schima wallichii), asare (Viburnum cordifolia), nevaro (Ficus spp). This system is called large cardamom based agroforestry system. It is an ecologically sustainable system.

Varieties: Ramsey, Golsey, Seremna, Varlanegy and Sawney.

Propagation: Through suckers and seeds. Sucker planting is quite common. It is planted in May-July.

Spacing: 1.5x1.5 m accommodating 4,000 plants /ha

Nutrient management: FYM and compost mixed with neem cake @ 2 kg/plant in three split doses in a year i.e., at the time of planting, before flowering and after harvest.

Intercultural operations: Removal of weeds twice in a year i.e., before flowering and after harvest.  Pruning of the aged pseudostem during Nov-Dec and covering the base of clumps with leaf litters.

Disease management: Foorkey and Chirkey are the major viral diseases beside fungal diseases namely, leaf spot and leaf blight. Drenching/spraying once before the onset of monsoon and just after flowering with Bordeaux mixture (1%) or copper oxychloride (0.20%) around the clumps is recommended. Uproot and burn the chirkey and foorkey affected plants as soon as it is spotted.

Harvesting: Harvest when the top capsules of spike turn grayish (Aug-Oct /Nov-Dec).

Yield: 400-500 kg dried capsules /ha


Curing capsules in Traditional Bhatti

Freshly harvested capsule contains 80-85 % moisture. It is to be dried immediately by drying in a traditional kiln called bhatti. The kiln is constructed using mud and bricks. The raw cardamom is spread over the drying platforms. Hot smokes from firewood are passed through the capsules. The process takes 35-40 hrs for complete drying i.e. till the capsules become hard and grilly in texture and turn dark brown. Sometime the capsule gets dried excessively or unevenly resulting in poor appearance and loss of aroma.

ICAR's Improved Large Cardamom Dryer

The improved dryer was designed by the CIAE, Bhopal and ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam, Meghalaya. The dryer is run using an electric motor or diesel engine. The capacity of the dryer is 600 kg per batch (curing time 12 hrs). The dryer would be economical if used by the community on hiring basis. Since uniform temperature is maintained inside the curing chamber, the quality of cured capsules is good.

Large cardamom cultivated beneath shade trees          Traditional way of curing Large Cardamom
(Inset: Fruiting bunch)  in bhatti


a)                                                                      b)   

a) Improved Large cardamom dryer can process 600 kg cardamom in a batch
b) Large cardamom cured in improved dryer retains colour and aroma