De l'Inde au Guatemala

M.S. Madan in
P.N. Ravindran & K.J. Madhusoodanam,
London New York, Taylor & Francis, 2002

(245) Until 1979–80 India was the largest producer and dominated the international trade in cardamom earning valuable foreign exchange for the nation. More than 90% cardamom of international commerce, both small as well as large, originated in India. However, during the past two decades, Indian cardamom is facing serious threat in the world market from Guatemala, which has slowly and steadily encroached into the traditional Indian export markets. Currently this Central American country, with an average annual production of more than 13,000 mt, has emerged as the top producer and exporter of cardamom in the world and India has been relegated to the second position.

The cost of production of cardamom in India is relatively high compared to that in Guatemala, mainly due to poor yield and low productivity. India's highest productivity level in years of good crop is three times lesser than the yield per ha in Guatemala. Senility and poor unselected varieties, prolonged drought and overdependence on monsoon, predominance of small holdings, problems of land tenure (lease), inadequate management practices, poor disease management, faulty post harvest practices, etc., are some of the reasons responsible for the low yield.

K.P. Prabhakaran Nair
Agronomy and Economy of Black Pepper and Cardamom
Amsterdam Boston Heidelberg London: Elsevier, 2011

(111) Currently, cardamom production is concentrated primarily in India and Guatemala. Cardamom was introduced to Guatemala in 1920, most likely from India or Sri Lanka, by a New York broker and was planted in the vicinity of Cobán in the department of Alta Verapaz. After World War II, cardamom production /112/ in Guatemala increased substantially on account of a shortage in production and high prices, and Guatemala soon became the top cardamom producer in the world. Native Guatemalans do not relish the taste of cardamom, and the entire quantity produced is exported. Today, Guatemala produces about 13,000–14,000 t of cardamom annually.

In India, the cardamom area has come down during the last two decades, from 1,05,000 ha in 1987–1988 to 69,820 ha in 1997–1998, a decrease of 33.5%. Still, production increased 190%, from 3200 t during 1987–1988 to 9290 t in 1999–2000. During the same period, productivity has risen from 47 to 173 kg ha, an increase of 268%. Cardamom cultivation is confined primarily to three South Indian states: Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Kerala has 59% of the total area cultivated and contributes 70% of the total production. Karnataka has 34% of the total area cultivated and contributes 23% to total production, while Tamil Nadu has 7% of the area and contributes the same percentage to total production. Most of the cardamomgrowing areas in Kerala are located in the districts of Idukki, Palakkad, and Waynad. In Karnataka, the crop is grown in the districts of Coorg, Chickmagalur, and Hassan, and, to some extent, in North Kanara district. In Tamil Nadu, cardamom cultivation is located in certain places of Pulney and Kodai hills. On the whole, in India, cardamom is a small-landholder's crop and there are 40,000 holdings covering an area of 80,000 ha.