GANGTOK, August 30: The Export-Import (EXIM) Bank in its study on export potential and prospects has identified large cardamom, orchids (cymbidium variety), Temi tea, ginger, mandarin, medicinal plants, honey and handicrafts as products of Sikkim having good potential for exports.
The agro-climatic diversity enables Sikkim to produce a variety of horticulture and floriculture products for which Sikkim has a comparative advantage, from an export perspective, the EXIM bank said in its study released by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling “Sikkim is by far the largest producer of large cardamoms, not just in India but globally. The State produced 3883 metric tonnes of large cardamom, of the overall Indian production of 4303 metric tones in 2006-07, thereby accounting for 89.1 percent of the country’s production”, says the study.
The study pointed out that supply chain of large cardamom in Sikkim in quite fragmented and reaches the retail level only after passing through a number of middlemen. Most of the farmers in Sikkim still use the traditional curing system for drying large cardamom.
The EXIM Bank has recommended that State Government that new plantations should replace the older ones as most cardamom plantations in Sikkim are at least three decades old resulting in declining species.
“The decline in yield has been further accentuated by disease and pest infection, mainly two viral diseases, Chirkey and Foorkey. Management of these pests and diseases is of upmost importance to increase productivity”.
The study also highlighted the need to move up the value chain through a two step process for drying and extraction of essential oils and oleoresins while a processing cum extraction plant for the purpose of deriving such products from large cardamom could greatly enhance the value of exports.
“There appears to be a very good international market for large cardamom oleoresins, which calls for setting up a processing unit in Sikkim-hitherto absent”, said the EXIM Bank pointing out that exports of cardamom oleoresins from India more than trebled during the period 2005 to 2008 – from US$ 17 mn to US$ 54 mn. The major markets for cardamom oleoresins are Russia, Denmark, Germany, France and Egypt.
“An additional benefit of large cardamom oleoresin production is that after removal of oleoresins from the dry cardamom spices, the residue can be used as an ingredient for animal feed. Thus, moving up the value chain through setting up the processing units for extraction of oil and oleoresins would facilitate quantum jump in the value of exports from Sikkim”, concluded the EXIM Bank in its executive summary on export potential of large cardamom.