Gangtok: March 22, 2012
With a view to demonstrate to farmers of Sikkim the large cardamom plantations of neighbouring areas in line with the extension principle of ‘Seeing is Believing’ and to provide an opportunity to large cardamom farmers for informal learning through interaction and sharing and exchange of knowledge, information, views and idea, eighty progressive farmers from all four Districts of the state visited Lava in Algarah Block of Kalimpong Sub-division in Darjeeling District of West Bengal during February-March 2012 as par of exposure tour to areas where significant success has been achieved in large cardamom farming. Farmers of the state visited large cardamom plantations at village Gitbeong and learnt of the different management practices adopted by the farmers there.
A very well maintained plot. We should also adopt the same method of planting exclaimed the jubiliant farmers, Shri T. Laripa and Shri S.T. Bhutia from Pelling in West District. Shri Karma Bhutia and Shri Nakul Rai from Assam Lingzey remarked that it was possible to maintain the same type of crop in Sikkim too if the practices followed in Lava was adopted earnestly. Shri Naku Lepcha of Lingi South District was nostalgic after being in the same place from where he had procured the large cardamom suckers from planting in his own field in Sikkim six years ago and where it was still performing satistactorily. “The methoda of sanitation if of a very high order, “something worth seeing’ asserted SHri Bhutia from Mangan, North Sikkim. Shri Lakpa Tarbu Sherpa, Panchayat President of Kewzing Bakhim GPU of South District and Ms. Khimu Lepcha, ex-Zilla Panchayat member of North District expressed gratitude to the Department for the opportunity to farmers for organizing the exposure tour to the large cardamom plantations outside the state.
The agronomic practices followed for growing the crop at Lava was purely traditional in nature without use of any synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and the crop was grown under totally organic conditions with use of organic Farm Yard Manure along with provision of irrigation water during the lean winter season using indigenous methods and resources. Harvesting of the crop was followed by intensive care of the plot through application of organic manure to soil in order to replenish the soil nutrients. The care extended to each plant after harvest was a critical factor determining further growth and development including yield of the crop in the ensuing season and neglectivism was something unheard of in the region. In addition, the harvested culms were all collected, heaped and burnt thereby helping in effective management of the disease inoculum in field, a farmer practice worth emulating and often neglected by farmers. Shri Phurba Sherpa, an organic farmer maintained yielding plots as old as sixteen years which were well managed, healthy and free from pests and diseases. With large cardamom being a cross pollinated crop, a few plants of the Churmpa variety, a wild cultivar of large cardamom which was maintained by each farmer in his plot helped in imparting host plant resistance to the cultivated species.
Lava was selected for the visit as the region shared close similarity in terms of agro-climate and edaphic conditions including altitudinal aspects which was comparable with the large cardamom growing regions in Sikkim. Gitbeong village in Algarah Block is flanked on either side by Kalimpong Block and Gorubathan Block where also falls Today, an important large cardamom growing belt in the region.
The itinerary also included visit to the Indian Agriculture Research Institute where farmers of South District interacted with the scientists and observed the pot experiments aimed at managing the viral diseases inlcuding greening disease of mandarin orages being undertaken at Institute.
The farmers were escorted by Deputy Director of the Department and accompanied by Horticulture Development Officers along with Assistant Director, Shri Ramalingam and Shri Pradhan,Senior Farm Manager of Spices Board Office Kalimpong, the organization instrumental in supporting the efforts of the large cardamom farmers of Darjeeling District.