Forest department will soon begin collecting organic cardamom from Edamalakkudy farmers

The entire project aims at ensuring proper livelihood and income to the tribespeople in Edmalakkudy, the department also has plans to procure organic certification for the cardamom grown in the tribal panchayat.

The Forest department will soon begin to collect organic cardamom produced at Edamalakkudy, the first tribal panchayat in the State, and market it as a separate brand.

According to officials, over 80% of tribal people in Edamalakkudy are engaged in cardamom farming.

Munnar Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Raju Francis says the Forest department will collect cardamom from the tribal people and pay them for their produce directly. Presently, the farmers are selling their produce through Forest Development Agency (FDA) and also through middlemen. The department will change the collected green cardamom to dried cardamom and market it through the Forest department shops, Mr. Francis says.

A cardamom dryer unit has also been established in Munnar with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The new dryer unit will be functional within one week. “Now, the farmers use old practices to dry the cardamom or sell it as green cardamom to middlemen at Adimali, says UNDP conservation project officer Rameshan M. The drying unit has been set up at Devikulam and will use Eucalyptus wood as fuel.

The entire project aims at ensuring proper livelihood and income to the tribespeople in Edamalakkudy, according to officials. “With the Forest department marketing it as a special product, the farmers will get proper income and market exposure,” says Dr Rameshan.

The department also had plans to procure organic certification for Edamalakkudy cardamom. According to senior Forest department officials, the cardamom farmers in Edamalakkudy face exploitation from middlemen. “The cardamom from the tribal hamlet has no proper size and colour. The new branding will ensure proper market and price to the tribal produce,” says the official. The department will collect the cardamom from other tribal hamlets under the Munnar forest division.

There are 24 tribal hamlets spread across Edamalakkudy panchayat and these settlements are occupied by the Muthuvan tribal community. As per the 2011 census, the population is estimated to be 2,236 from 750 families. Cardamom is the major crop in the tribal hamlet.

“The department vehicle will reach the famers’ doorstep in the panchayat and directly collect the green cardamom. The dried cardamom will be available in Munnar Vanasree shop, Eravikulam National Park shop, and Neryamangalam Masalappetty shop,” says Mr. Francis.