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Anjali Pathak
The tea, coffee and spice industry in India has been slow to switch to organic cultivation, labouring under the misconception that organic cultivation is prohibitively expensive. Vrikshayurveda organic cultivation offers a cheaper alternative to conventional chemical cultivation of tea, coffee and spices. Taking the tea industry as an example, we present a comparative study of the costs involved in three systems of cultivation—conventional, ordinary organic and vrikshayurveda. Conventional cultivation is the most widespread, ordinary organic has a few adherents and vrikshayurveda is a newcomer on the scene.
The ancient Indian science of plant life
Vrikshayurveda is the ancient Indian science of plant life more than a 1,000 years old which has been compiled by Surapala in his Sanskrit treatise VRIKSHAYURVEDA. Under this system, organic manures and pesticides are produced on the plantation itself with locally available materials.   Self-sufficiency is stressed to reduce input costs. This ancient Indian system has a unique approach to agriculture which may be novel for most planters.
Practical experience in the tea gardens of the northeast and the coffee plantations of Karnataka has shown that liquid organic manures are the best option for plantations as they are very fast acting. In terms of cost sasyagavya and other preparations based on cow dung and cow urine plus green biomass are the cheapest.  Kunapa jal, matsya pani and preparations based on animal flesh and animal wastes are more expensive but then their results are also equally astounding.   If fish, mutton or pork waste can be procured cheaply then these manures also prove to be very cost effective.
Vrikshayurveda manures eliminate pests and diseases AND increase production in the same go.  In Assam and Arunachal, pesticide residues were eliminated within 4-6 months of steady application of these liquid manures. Whereas vermicompost takes 2-4 months to be ready for application , vrikshayurveda liquid manures are ready for field application within 15-20 days, OR within 4-5 days if a gobar gas plant is installed.
With the regular application of these liquid manures there is no need  for the application of cowdung manure, vermicompost or farmyard manure,  or for the numerous biocontrol agents that  are commercially available. Mulching may be carried out and weeding when necessary.  Vrikshayurveda  converts both animal and plant waste  into liquid gold. We literally drench the bushes, trees, vines  and the soil with this liquid gold. What emerges is pure ambrosia which leaves even the connoisseurs  of Darjeeling tea and Malabar spice speechless!
Maintenance of dung herd in the garden
It is essential to maintain a dung herd in the garden if vrikshayurveda methods of organic cultivation are to be followed.  Three cows per hectare  is the standard ratio for the dung herd.  A large garden of 1000 hectares would have to maintain a dung herd of 3000 cows according to this ratio.  But why are present day planters so scared of maintaining a dung herd?  In ancient times people maintained large herds. Animal husbandry was perhaps best developed in the Mathura-Vrindavan area known popularly as Vraja, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood grazing the cows in the forest.  A herd of 10,000 cows was called VRAJA. Some herders had 6-8 vrajas. Of course since stall feeding such a large number of cows was not possible, they were sent to graze in the jungles under the supervision of young boys or gwalas. Shri Krishna was one such gwala.
The plantations of India are located in areas of high rainfall and lush vegetation where cows can easily graze in the open.   With some supervision  a dung herd can easily be maintained by a plantation. For 3000 cows, 30 gwalas are sufficient.  This concept may be new for many planters but once they have accepted it, it will prove to be a blessing for them in the long run.  The plantations of India may well prove to be the new Vrindavan of the 21st century!
Simple strategy
A simple strategy is to provide 1-2 cows of a local breed to each family in the labour lines. If they are allowed to keep the milk for personal use in exchange for collecting the cow dung and cow urine for the garden’s use, they will willingly feed and rear the cows.  And if gobar gas plants are set up by the garden management to provide cooking fuel to the labour lines, the worker families will have a greater incentive to rear the cows.   This decentralized system of animal husbandry reduces the costs of the garden. Only the initial costs of providing the cows and of installing the gobar gas plants have to be borne. Moreover, the state KVIBs  offer a handsome subsidy on the installation of gobar gas plants.
Makaibari’s successful animal husbandry
This system has been implemented very successfully in Makaibari, Kurseong by Rajah Banerjee since the 1990s. Makaibari has an area of 1574 acres out of which only 550 acres have been planted with tea, the rest has  been left as undisturbed as forest. Worker families were provided with cows and gobar gas plants were also set up near their residences over the years. The families stall feed the cows, milk them and collect the dung and urine for use in the gobar gas plants.   The workers at Makaibari are satisfied with this arrangement as gobar gas is a clean fuel which has reduced the drudgery of the womenfolk.  Gobar gas has also helped to conserve the rich forests of Makaibari as the need for firewood as cooking fuel has been drastically reduced.  The families have been allowed to keep the milk and also sell any surplus in the market.   Most have learned how to make compost heaps and they use the compost to grow their own vegetables besides providing it for use in the tea garden.
Weedicide 1223 2210
Insecticide 3156 3200
Manure (NPK) 3156 3200
Foliar spray for nutrients 2300 5995
TOTAL Rs.7679 Rs. 12405
10     ha  76,790 1.2 lakh
25      ha 1.9 lakh 3.1 lakh
50      ha 3.8 lakh 6.2 lakh
100     ha 7.67 lakh 12.4 lakh
250     ha 19.19 lakh 31 lakh
500     ha 38.39 lakh 62 lakh
750      ha 57.6 lakh 93.03 lakh
1000    ha 76.79 lakh 124 lakh
OMEGA Quantity/ ha Price per kg Cost per year
0rganic manure 500 kg 3.75 1875.00
Azosprillum 12.5 kg 29.50 368.75
VAM 12.5 kg 29.50 368.75
Phosphobacteria 12.5 kg 29.50 368.75
Pseudomonas 2.5 kg 60.00 150.00
Trichoderma 2.5 kg 60.00  150.00
HARIT PUSHTI Quantity/ha  Price per kg Cost per year
Organic manure 500 kg 3.90 1950.00
Fertilin 10 kg 60.00 600.00
Nitrobin 10 kg 60.00 600.00
Phosphobin 10 kg 60.00 600.00
Trichoderma 2.5 kg 80.00 200.00
Pseudomonas 2.5 kg 80.00 200.00
MULTIPLEX Quantity/ha Price per kg Cost per year
Annapurna manure 500 kg 9.00 4500.00
Azosprillum 12.5 kg 42.00 525.00
Azotobacteria 12.5 kg 42.00 525.00
VAM 12.5 kg 42.00 525.00
Pseudomonas 2.5 kg 57.00 142.00
Trichoderma 2.5 kg 110.00  275.00
Rs. 3301.25/ha/year
Harit Pushti
Rs. 4150/ha/year
Rs. 6492.50 /ha/year
10 ha 33,012 41,500 64,925
25 ha 82,000 1.03 lakh 1.6 lakh
50 ha 1.65 lakh 2.07 lakh 3.25 lakh
100 ha 3.3 lakh 4.15 lakh 6.5 lakh
250 ha 8.25 lakh 10.3 lakh 16.23 lakh
500 ha 16.5 lakh 20.75 lakh 33 lakh
750 ha 24.75 lakh 32 lakh 48.6 lakh
1000 ha 33 lakh 41.5 lakh 66 lakh
10 ha 10 cows 2750 33,000
25 ha 25 cows 6875 82,500
50 ha 50 cows 13,750 1.65 lakh
100 ha 100 cows 27,500 3.3lakh
250 ha 250 cows 68,750 8.2lakh
500 ha 500 cows 1.37 lakh 16.5lakh
750 ha 750 cows 2.06 lakh 24.75 lakh
1000 ha 1000 cows 2.75 lakh 33 lakh
Cost Effective and Sustainable
It is apparent from these tables that organic cultivation of tea is much cheaper than conventional chemical cultivation. Table 3.1 gives an estimate of the cost of maintaining a dung herd if the garden provides dry fodder and maintains the herd. However, if decentralized animal husbandry is followed as at Makaibari then the garden is saved this expense. Vrikshayurveda liquid organic manures such as sasyagavya, amritapani and bhasmapani can be produced at almost zero cost if this infrastructure is in place.  In this case vrikshayurveda methods of cultivation surpass the commercial organic inputs in terms of cheapness, availability, sustainability and ease of preparation.
Pure ambrosia
Indian tea planters are facing a crisis due to their high production costs and shortage of labour in south India. The coffee planters and spice growers are not faring much better. One way out of this impasse is to reduce production costs which can be achieved by the adoption of vrikshayurveda methods. Only a change in the mindset of the planters is required to move in this direction. While some initial investment will have to be made to set up the infrastructure to implement vrikshayurveda methods of  cultivation, this investment will easily be recovered in a short period of time. A 1,000 year old tradition that has withstood the test of time can once again come to the rescue of the beleaguered Indian planters in the 21st century and turn their fortunes around. Planters who are courageous enough to take the initiative will taste and savour pure ambrosia which will also bring Goddess Lakshmi to their doorstep!
Tea gardens in India that have adopted the organic package of practices have been able to turn their profile around. Not only has green leaf production increased, pest and disease attack has also been brought under control within a short period of time. Helopeltis, red spider mite, loopers , blister blight and other common problems have been effectively contained by the adoption of these methods. The cost effectiveness of these organic methods means that input costs are reduced greatly.
With MRL guidelines spelt out clearly for exporters, gardens are looking for ways and means to ensure  good green leaf production while adhering to these norms. The package of practice  for tea developed by Anjali has helped many planters and growers to achieve this sustainably
Coffee cultivation in India offers a great scope for production of organic coffee, as the conditions are far more favorable than in any other coffee growing country. Some of the advantages in India are:
  1. Coffee is mainly cultivated in deep fertile jungle soils under a two tier mixed shade canopy comprising of evergreen leguminous and non- leguminous shade trees.
  2. Traditional farming practices such as use of cattle manure, composting, manual weeding etc., are in vogue in the vast majority of small holdings.
  3. Availability of sufficient skilled manpower for the labour intensive operations of coffee
  4. The Indian coffee industry is characterized by predominantly small  and tribal growers. Although their yields may be low, they can easily be converted into certified organic growers without much change in their cultivation practices.
Mixed cropping and diversified farming on the coffee estate will ensure a better income for the owner and also safeguard against price fluctuations in the market. Most coffee estates are interplanting spices with the coffee bushes and some are interplanting oranges as well.
As 70% of Indian coffee is meant for export, it has become imperative for the coffee growers to find ways and means to cut down on their input costs while improving their yields and their quality. Large scale mechanization of coffee estates is not feasible in India as the estates are located in hilly areas. The small growers manage the bulk of the operations themselves with family labor.
Both arabica and robusta coffee do well under organic management. Traditional plantations with medium or low yields (100-250 kg/acre) can be converted to organic without a significant drop in yields. Estates with higher yields (above 500 kg./acre) may experience a drop in yields during the three year conversion period. But production will climb to original levels after organic practices are carried out regularly on the plantation. The main feature of the package of practice for coffee developed by Anjali  is that it reduces the losses during the conversion  period substantially and thereafter maintains good yields.
Cardamom, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, turmeric chilies, fenugreek, mustard, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic and other spices respond very well to the organic methods advocated by Anjali. Packages of practice have been developed for each spice.
Ayurvedic medicinal herbs like bhuiamla (phyllanthus niruri), tulsi (ocimum sanctum), curry leaf (murraya koenigii), (kalmegh (andrographis paniculata), ashwagandha (withania somnifera), shatavari (asparagus racemosus), vacha (acorus calamus), meshta (hibiscus sabdariffa), jabakusum (hibiscus rosa chinensis), sahajan (moringa oleifera), sinduri ( bixa orellana) and many more produce abundant yields under an organic regime. In arid or semi-arid zones pitcher irrigation can be used effectively in small plots devoted to these herbs.
Large cardamom (amomum subulatum), is one of the main cash crops cultivated in Sikkim and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. With annual production of over 4,500 MT from a total cultivation area of about 23,500 hectares, large cardamom is the main cash crop of Sikkim. India is the largest producer of large cardamom with 54% share in world production, and Sikkim contributes upto 88% of India's production. Large cardamom is also cultivated in parts of Uttarakhand and in some other northeastern states.  It is also cultivated in Nepal and Bhutan. It is used as a spice in several ayurvedic preparations. It contains 2-3% essential oil and possesses medicinal properties.
Large cardamom has a pleasant aromatic odour, due to which it is extensively used for flavouring vegetables and many food preparations in India. It is also used as an essential ingredient in mixed spices preparation. Apart from aroma large cardamom also has high medicinal value. The decoction of seeds is used as a gargle in infection of teeth and gums. Large cardamom seeds are considered as an antidote to either snake venom or scorpion venom. It is also reported that large cardamom seeds are used as preventive as well as curative measure for throat troubles, congestion of lungs, inflammation of eyelids, digestive disorders and in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis..
Climate and soil
The crop grows well under the shade of forest trees at altitudes ranging from 1000-2000 metres with a rainfall of 3000-3500 mm per annum. Deep and well drained soils with a loamy texture are best suited for cardamom.  The soil in Sikkim is generally rich in organic matter and nitrogen, medium in available phosphorus and medium to high in available potash. The soils have a pH range from 4.5 to 6.0. Even though the crop can be grown in undulating and steep terrains, land with a more moderate slope is preferred.
There are mainly five popular cultivars of large cardamom viz. Ramsey, Sawney, Golsey, Varlangey and Seremna. Bebo, Boklok Tali, Jaker and Belak are the other cultivars found in Arunachal Pradesh.
Propagation of large cardamom is done through seeds and suckers. Propagation through seeds enables the production of a large number of seedlings. Virus diseases are not transmitted through seeds and therefore the seedlings are free from viral diseases, if adequate care is taken to isolate and protect the nursery from fresh infection.  Plants raised from seeds need not necessarily be high yielders even if they are collected from very productive plants due to cross-pollination. The major pollination is done by wild bees and the rest by honey bees. Planting suckers on the other hand ensures true to type and high productivity if they are collected from high yielding plants.
Primary Nursery
Cardamom seeds are generally sown in September-October. Seed beds are prepared in well drained soil dug to a depth of 30 cm and left for weathering. Raised beds with 15 to 25 cm height, 1 metre width and convenient length, preferably 6 metres, are prepared. Well decomposed cattle manure is mixed with the soil and the surface of the bed is made to a fine tilth. 80-100 gm of seeds are sown per bed in lines spaced 10 cm apart. The seeds are then covered with fine soil and mulched with paddy straw/dry grass ( 10-15 cm thick). Watering is done at regular intervals to keep the surface of the bed moist. Germination of acid treated seeds commences after 25- 30 days of sowing. When average germination is noticed the mulch materials are removed. The inter space between rows is then remulched with chopped paddy straw. Shade pandals are immediately erected by using bamboo mats/reed mats or agro-shade nets. The beds are watered regularly and weeding is done  as and when required. When the seedlings attain 3-4 leaf stage, they are transplanted to secondary beds.
Polybag nurseries
Polythene bags of 15 cm x 15 cm with perforations at the base are used for planting the seedlings. The bags are filled with a potting mixture of soil, sand and cowdung in the ratio of 4:1:1. The bags filled with the mixture are arranged in rows of one metre width and of convenient length under shade pandals. Seedlings with 3-4 leaves are planted in the bags in April-May and watered regularly. They become ready for field planting in 10-12 months.
Secondary nursery
Beds of size 15 cm in height and 100 cm in width with convenient length are prepared and well-decomposed cattle manure is mixed with the soil and an even surface is formed. Seedlings with 3-4 leaves are transplanted to the beds in May-June at spacing of 15 cm between them.  An overhead pandal is erected for providing shade and the soil is kept moist with irrigation.  When the seedlings attain a growth of 45-60 cm in height with 2-3 tillers, they are planted in the main field during June-July of the subsequent year.
Sucker multiplication nursery
As mentioned earlier suckers should be generated only in sucker multiplication nursery where adequate precautions are taken to ensure that viral diseases are not transmitted through the suckers produced. The site for such a nursery should be located at least 500 metres away from large cardamom plantations. They are established either under the shade of forest trees or under shade pandals with 50% shade using black agro shade nets. Trenches of 30x 30 cm are prepared at convenient lengths with an inter space of 30 cm. Well decomposed cattle manure or compost is mixed with the soil and the trenches are filled to the brim.  Then the suckers from high yielding disease free plantations, with one grown up shoot with an emerging bud are planted at 30 cm apart in the trenches. The time for planting is May-June. After planting, the plant base is mulched with dried forest leaves. The multiplication rate in this method is about 1:8 in one year’s time. The grown up tillers are split into units of one tiller with an emerging bud and planted in the main field during June-July.
For rapid multiplication of high yielding clones, vegetative buds from disease free high yielding mother plants are collected and plantlets are produced through the tissue culture technique. These plantlets are hardened in poly bags or in secondary nurseries and once sufficient growth is attained, they can be planted in the main field during June-July.
Large cardamom grows well in forest loamy soils with gentle to medium slopes. Water logged conditions are detrimental to the growth of the plants. It performs well under shade. Utis (alnus nepalensis) is the most common and preferred shade  tree for large cardamom.  The other species of shade trees are panisai (terminalia myriocarpa), pipli (bucklandia spp.), malito( macaranga denticulate), argeli (edgeworthes gardneri), asare (viburnus eruberens), bilaune(maesa cheria), kharane(symplocos spp.), siris ( albizzia lebbeck), dhurpisand Khasi cherry, katuse, faledo (erythrina indica), jhingani (euria tapanica) and chillowne (schima wallichi).
Land preparation
Planting is done during June-July when there is enough moisture in the soil. The land selected for planting is cleared of all under growth, weeds etc. for new planting or if it is replanting, old plants may be removed. Pits of size 30x30x30 cm are prepared on the contour of the hill at a spacing of 1.5 x1.5 m after the onset of monsoon showers. A wider spacing of 1.8x1.8 m is recommended for robust cultivars like Sawney, Varlangey, Ramsey etc. The pits are left for weathering for a fortnight and then filled with topsoil mixed with cowdung or compost at the rate of 1- 3 kg. per pit. Seedlings/suckers are planted in the middle of the pit. Care should be taken not to plant the seedlings/rhizomes very deep in the pit. After planting the seedling/suckers may be staked and the base of the plant is mulched with dry leaves.
For a sustained production the soil fertility should be maintained to its optimum. Well decomposed cattle manure or compost and oil cakes may be applied at the rate of 2 kg. per plant at least once in two years in April-May.  If all the crop residues are recycled in the plantation, application of inorganic fertilizers may not be necessary.
Weed control in the plantations is important for the maximum utilization of the available soil moisture and nutrients by the plant. Three rounds of weeding are required for effective control of the weed growth in the initial two to three years. Weeding can either be hand weeding or sickle weeding depending upon the intensity of weed growth. From around the plant base the weeds can be pulled out by hand and the weeds in the inter space need only be slashed with a sickle. While weeding, dried shoots and other trashed materials can be used as mulch around the plant base to conserve moisture in the ensuing dry months, and to prevent weed growth around the plant base.
Soil and moisture conservation
Cardamom is mainly grown in hilly terrain. The topography and the wet climate of Sikkim permits soil erosion to a considerable extent. Intensive operations which loosen and expose the soil will increase soil erosion and therefore only minimum tillage operations should be followed. As far as possible contour terraces may be made well before taking up planting operations. This helps in reducing soil erosion and soil moisture conservation. Though contour terracing is expensive and requires high initial investment, the long term benefit will compensate the initial extra expenditure.
In some of the large cardamom plantations, water sources are available which can be exploited to irrigate the crop by gravity flow, either through pipes, sprinklers or flood irrigation through open channels. It is observed that productivity is higher in plantations where irrigation is provided. For sustainable  and better yield the plants may be watered during the dry months. Depending on the availability of water sources, hose, or sprinkler or flood irrigation through channels can be adopted. Hose irrigation can be done at the rate of 40-50 litres per plant at fortnightly intervals. In case of sprinkler, irrigation equivalent to 35-45 mm of rain at fortnightly intervals is recommended.
Large cardamom is by and large free from the attack of any major pests except for the sporadic incidence of leaf eating caterpillars. Aphids are found in most of the areas which transmit the viral diseases chirke and foorkey.
Leaf eating caterpillar
Initially the caterpillar of the moth Artona Chorista feeds on the leaf lamina from under the surface of the leaf and finally defoliates the leaf  completely leaving only the midribs. Their incidence is noticed in May-July and October-March. At present these insects are kept under control by their natural enemies. If insecticides are used to control them then their natural enemies will also disappear which may lead to an outbreak of these pests in epidemic form.  The best method of control is to inspect the plantations during May-July and October-March, to handpick the infected leaves along with the caterpillars and destroy them by burning.
Fungal or bacterial diseases are seldom reported in large cardamom. Only minor diseases like leaf streak or rot diseases are found in isolated areas.  The major threat to large cardamom is the widespread occurrence of viral diseases viz. chirke and foorkey. These diseases are seen throughout the large cardamom growing tracts of Sikkim and Darjeeling and cause considerable crop loss. These diseases have spread due to drastic change in the ecosystem, inadequate rain in dry months and absence of good agricultural practices by the farmers. Many cardamom  farmers failed to plant varieties suitable to their altitude.
The symptoms are characterized by mosaic appearance on the tender leaves with pale streaks, which slowly turns into brown, resulting in withering and drying of the plants. Growth and yield of the affected plants gradually declines and ultimately they perish. The disease is transmitted by aphids. It also spreads by planting infected suckers. Transporting of infected suckers from one area to another leads to the spread of this disease. The disease is also transmitted mechanically through the knife used for harvesting.
Numerous small tillers appear at the base of the affected plants which become stunted and fail to give any yield. Even the inflorescence is noticed to produce unproductive spikes.
Management of viral diseases
Plants affected by the viral diseases cannot be cured but the losses can be minimized by adopting appropriate management practices.
  1. Keep a constant vigil to detect disease affected parts.
  2. Uproot and destroy affected plants as soon as symptoms appear. Repeat detection and uprooting at regular intervals.
  3. Use seedlings produced in certified nurseries.
  4. Propagation through suckers is recommended only through certified multiplication nurseries.
Harvesting and curing
The indication of the time of harvest is when the seeds of the topmost capsules turn brown. To enhance maturity, bearing tillers are cut to a height of 30-45 cm and left for another 10-15 days for full maturity. The spikes are harvested using special knives. The harvested spikes are heaped and capsules are separated and dried. The cured capsules are rubbed on a wire mesh for clearing and removal of the calyx (tail).
Traditionally large cardamom is cured in a bhatti where the capsules are dried by direct heating. Under this system the cardamom comes in direct contact with smoke which turns the capsules to a darker browner black colour with a smoky smell. Improved curing techniques are available  by which cardamom is processed to give better quality and appearance. One such method is the ICRI Spices Board improved bhatti system of curing in which the cardamom is dried by indirect heating at 45-50 degrees C.
After studying the traditional bhattisystem used for curing of large cardamom in Sikkim it was observed that apart from energy efficiency, emphasis for technological development should be to improve the quality of dried cardamom. Accordingly under an ISPS (Indo Swiss Project Sikkim) sponsored project TERI has developed an advanced gasifier based system for improving the energy efficiency and quality of dried cardamom.
To make available the system to the cardamom growers a fabrication unit of the gasifier system is required to be set up.
The properly dried capsules should be allowed to cool and then packed in polythene lined jute bags. The bags may be stored on a wooden platform to avoid absorption of moisture, which may result in fungus growth damaging the stored produce.
Spices Board Assistance
The Spices Board is trying to promote the cultivation of large cardamom in Sikkim through the following schemes:
  1. Certified nursery scheme: The Board supports the raising of nurseries in farmers’ fields by offering a grant-in-aid of Rs. 10,000 per nursery producing 10,000 suckers.
  2. Replanting scheme: This scheme is intended to encourage growers to take up replantation of senile and uneconomic gardens. A subsidy of Rs. 6,000 per hectare is offered to the growers.
  3. Supply of sprinkler irrigation units: To tide over the drought situations during summer, the Board assists growers in procuring and installing sprinkler units and accessories by providing 50% of the cost as subsidy with a ceiling of Rs. 2500 per set.
  4. Low cost driers: In order to improve the quality of the cured large cardamom the Board helps the growers to replace their traditional bhatti curing system with improved driers by providing a subsidy of Rs. 10,000 per drier.
  5. Processing units: The conventionally cured cardamom does not fetch the right price because of unscientific processing and packaging. In order to overcome this situation, the Board proposes to assist the growers in setting up their own processing/ powdering/ packaging units by providing assistance to the tune of 50% of the cost, subject to a maximum ceiling of Rs. 50,000 per unit.
Cardamom Replantation
10,000 hectares of land will be replanted with improved varieties of large cardamom  in Sikkim and West Bengal under a Spices Board initiative. The potential of Himalayan cardamom, which is harvested in Nepal, Bhutan, West Bengal, Sikkim, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and other northern states, is more than 50,000 kg per ha. Though it loses out on pricing against small cardamom, it gains on higher yields and lower costs.
Sikkim: Becoming an organic state
Sikkim, being a state with mixed farming system established long ago and being one of the states with the lowest consumption rates for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has all the advantages for going organic.  The present status of fertilizer consumption in Sikkim is 20.38 kg per hectare in terms of materials or 10.26 kg per hectare in terms of nutrients.  Whilst, the present consumption rate of pesticides is 24 grams per hectare only. Sikkim is on its way to becoming an totally organic state soon. At present only Uttarakhand and Mizoram have passed legislation declaring themselves to be totally organic states. Large cardamom is by and large produced organically in Sikkim. However, getting organic certification from an accredited agency  is a pending task for most of the growers. Hopefully this will be accomplished soon through the initiatives of the state govt.