India produces a wide range of spices and holds a prominent position in world spice production. Because of the varying climates – from tropical to sub-tropical to temperate-almost all spices grow splendidly in India. In reality almost all the states and union territories of India grow one or the other spices. Under the act of Parliament, a total of 52 spices are brought under the purview of Spices Board. However, 109 spices are notified in the ISO list which include cardamom. Furthermore, India are known for its two types of cardamom which are small cardamom and large cardamom.
The differences between small cardamom and large cardamom are described below:
Table 1.The Differences between Small and Large Cardamom
|Small Cardamom||Large Cardamom|
|Small cardamoms popularly known as chhotielachi (Elettaria cardamom) or the true cardamom,||Large cardamom known as badaelalchi [aframomum and amomum spices).|
|Small cardamom is one of the most exotic and highly priced spices||Large cardamom is the dried fruit of a perennial herbaceous plant.|
|It belongs to cardamom family named as a zingiberaceae, other names, of small cardamom are lesser cardamom, true cardamom, Malabar cardamom.||Large cardamom also belongs to the family zingiberaceae, its other names are big cardamom and black cardamom.|
|The small cardamom, described as a queen of spices, is a rich spice culled from the seeds of elettaria cardamom.||In large cardamom is also referred to as ‘Black Cardamom’. It is a dried fruit of a perennial plant. The fresh fruits are handpicked when mature dried and cured. The fruit is almost the size of a nut Meg .The dark red brown capsules contain several seeds in each cell, held together by a viscid, sugary pulp. Propagation is by seeds or portions of rhizomes.|
|Small cardamom is a native of Western Ghats of South India. It is cultivated in three states, viz., Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu.||Large cardamom is a native to Eastern Himalayan region. It is cultivated in India mainly in Sikkim, Assam and West Bengal.|
|The harvesting season of small Cardamom is August to March and marketing season is October to May||But the harvesting season of large Cardamom is August to December and Marketing season is October to February.|
|Small cardamom is used for preparation of medicine, food, perfume and beverages.||It is used for preparation of food and pan masaala and medicine.|
|Small cardamom is exported to West Asia, European countries and Middle East countries like Japan and Russia||The large cardamom is exported to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Singapore and UK.|
Harvesting and processing
Cardamom plants normally start bearing two years after planting. In most of the areas in India the peak period of harvest is during October-November. Picking is carried out at an interval of 15-25 days. Ripe capsules are harvested in order to get maximum green colour during curing. After harvest, capsules are dried either in kiln drying or electrical drying or in the sun drying. It has been found that soaking the freshly harvested green cardamom capsules in 2% washing soda solution for 10 minutes prior to drying helps to retain the green colour during drying. For kiln drying, over night drying at 50-60o C is required, for electrical drying, it should be dried at 45-50o C for 14-18 hours, while for sun drying it require 5-6 days or more depending on the availability of sunlight. The capsules kept for drying are spread thinly and stirred frequently to ensure uniform drying. The dried capsules are rubbed with hands or coir mat or wire mesh and winnowed to remove any foreign matterand then sorted out according to size and colour, and stored in black polythene lined gunny bags to retain the green colour during storage.
Area Plantation of Cardamoms in India
In India, small cardamoms are produced in Kerala, Karnatakaand Tamil Nadu State. In 2016, the total area under small cardamoms plantation were reported 70,080 Ha of the 3 states above with Kerala State being reported with the largest planting area, amounting to 39,680 Ha followed by Karnataka States with 25,240 Ha and Tami Nadu with 5,160 Ha. Furthermore, similar to small cardamom, large cardamom was also widely cultivated in India, in the same period, large cardamoms were mostly produced in Sikkim and West Bengal State. The total area of large cardamom plantation in the 2 states was reported amounting 26,387 Ha which 23,082 Ha of it located in Sikkim State and 3,305 Ha in West Bengal State.2017 saw a decreasing trend in cardamoms planting area. India’s area of plantation for small cardamom dropped to a total of 69,357 Ha. Thus, recording a decrease by 1% as compared to the previous period, of whichKerala State amounted to 39,080 Ha, Karnataka States with 25,117 Ha and Tamil Nadu State with 5,160 Ha. Furthermore, contrary to small cardamoms, the total area oflarge cardamoms plantation wasreported with an increase of 1% as compared to the previous period with a total of 26,617 Ha of which Sikkim Statewas 23,312 Ha and West Bengal Statewas 3,305 Ha.
2018 saw relative unchangedtrend area plantation for both small and large cardamoms in India. Small cardamoms in India in this period was reported with a total area of plantation 69,330 Ha of which Kerala State 39,080 Ha, Karnataka State 25,135 Ha and Tamil Nadu State 5,115 Ha. Whilst, the total area plantation of large cardamoms in India were reported unchanged.
In 2019, the area of plantation for small cardamoms was estimated stable and relatively unchanged as compared to the period of 2018 with a total 69,132 Ha of which Kerala State 38,882 Ha, Karnataka State 25,135 Ha and Tami Nadu State 5,115 Ha. Contrary to small cardamoms, the total area of plantation for large cardamoms was estimated with a significant increase of 61% as compared to the previous period to a total of 42,826 Ha. The increase of the total area of plantation for large cardamoms in India could be contributed to the opening of large cardamoms plantation in other state in India such as Nagaland State and Arunachal Pradesh State. In2019, estimated area of plantation for India’s large cardamom were Sikkim State with 23,312 Ha, West Bengal States with 3,305 Ha, Nagaland States with 6,308 Ha and Arunachal Pradesh State with 9,901 Ha. Furthermore, for the year 2020, the area under cardamoms cultivation was projected to slightly decrease by 0.1% as compared to the previous year to a total of 111,869 Ha in 2020 which 62% or a total of 69,043 Ha was of small cardamoms and 38% or 42,826 Ha was of large cardamoms (Table 2).
Production of Cardamoms in India
Cardamoms production by India in the period of 2016 until 2019 had fluctuated greatly. Production of small cardamoms in 2016 was reported to reach 23,890 Mt of whichKerala State was reported to be the largest producer with 21,503 Mt or 90% of the total production of small cardamom m in India during that period. Furthermore, production of large cardamom in 2016 was reported to reach 5,315 Mt of which Sikkim State was reported to be the largest producer with 4,465 Mt or 84% of the total production of large cardamom in India duringthat period. 2017 saw a decreasing trend for production of small cardamom. India was reported to have onlyproducedsmall cardamoms to a total of 17,990 Mt. Thus, recording a decrease by 25% as compared to previous period. Contrary to small cardamoms, production of large cardamoms was reported with an increase of 5% as compared to the previous period to a total of 5,572 Mt. Furthermore, in 2018 production of small and large cardamom showed increasing trend and were reported with an increase of 15% and 6% respectively as compared to 2017 to a total of 20,650 Mt for small cardamoms and 5,906 Mt for large cardamoms. In 2019, production of small cardamoms was estimated to only reach 12,940 Mt or a decrease by 37% when compared to previous period. Contrary to small cardamoms, production of large cardamoms in 2019 was estimated witha significant increased by 47% or 2,763 Mt as compared to the previous period with total 8,669 Mt. The increase in production of large cardamoms could be contributed to the addition of new plantation area of large cardamoms in Nagaland State and Arunachal Pradesh State.Furthermore, the production of cardamoms in 2020 was projected to slightly increase by 1% as compared to 2019 to a total of 21,928 Mt which 60% of it consisted of small cardamoms and 40% of large cardamoms.The projected increase of cardamoms production could be contributed to favourable weather conditions (Table 2). During 2106-2020, the highest total production of small and large cardamoms in India was reported in 2016 with 29,205 Mt whilst the lowest was estimated to occur in 2019 with 21,609 Mt.
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