Cardamom, a spice much in demand on the international market, is now being grown in Uganda.
The seedlings, brought from India by Amirali Nathu, the proprietor of Sezibwa Estates in Mukono district, have matured into nurseries. Distribution of plantings has already began to smallscale farmers.
â€œThis is the queen of spices on the international market. At the moment India and Guatemala, are the main cardamom producers globally. We tested the growth of this cardamom to Ugandaâ€™s climate and we realized it has a high yield here,â€ Nathu said.
He was speaking during the official distribution this week, to outgrowers, who have been supplying him with coffee and vanilla for export at his farm.
â€œThe cardamom world market has been very stable and prices are good. We shall give farmers advise on disease resistance, growing, harvesting and sale of green cardamom to processors, and use of organic fertilisers,â€ Nathu said.
A yield of one kilo of green cardamom introduced as another exported non-traditional cash crop, will earn the farmer sh2000 meaning 2500 plants (yield of 2500 kilos per hectare) will give a smallscale farmer an annual income of sh5m.
Steve New, the Horticultural Advisor with Investment in Developing Export Agriculture (IDEA) project which has been providing market, financial and technical assistance to growers of other non-traditional cash crops including flowers, vanilla, passion fruits, cocoa et cetera, said cardamom was easier to grow making it a better income generating crop for small- scale farmers.
â€œWe all know the story of vanilla. In the beginning no one was interested in growing it, because it was labour intensive, its quality was poor earning us low prices on the international market,â€ New said.
â€œToday, smallscale farmers have built houses, bought bicycles and paid school fees for their children using money earned out of selling vanilla. Uganda has the right conditions for the green cardomom, and the market price is good. It is very profitable for smallscale farmers.â€ he said. Cardamom is used as a flavouring and an ingredient for perfumes.