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Green Cardamom

From the home of green cardamom,
the Cardamom hills in
 Idukki 

  Uniqueness of our green cardamom  

Grown in their native, in the famed cardamom hills of the Western Ghats, our chemical-free green cardamom thrives sustainably. Thoughtfully grown using natural farming methods, our handpicked indigenous and farmer bred varieties are distinct in their intrinsic flavours and aroma, yet elegant in every way, for everyone.

Handpicked Indigenous and Farmer-bred varieties

Naturally Grown

From the High Ranges of Idukki

Ethically Sourced

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Meet our two indigenous varieties,
Palakudi & Njallani

Palakudi

Njallani

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The citrusy, floral, starchy taste notes, spicy flavours and milder yet distinct aroma defines this farmer-bred, high yielding variety.

Developed by Sebastian Joseph Njallani, a farmer in Idukki, the Njallani cardamom soon became a farmers’ favourite owing to its higher yield; it revolutionised the way cardamom was cultivated commercially.

With longer and bigger pods this variety now dominates the cardamom hills albeit the challenges to cultivate them naturally.

Njallani, with the tint of pungency it has, is best combined with savoury dishes.

Njallani

With stronger yet soothing aroma and refined sweet and nutty notes along with subtle floral notes, this indigenous stout variety truly reflects the spice supremacy of the Cardamom Hills.

The creamy flavours of Palakudi, makes it ideal for desserts and those recipes where you want the subtle sweet element of cardamom to stand out.

With its superior taste notes, if traced back in time, Palakudi will surely be one of those varieties that would have contributed heavily to render cardamom as the queen of spices.

With distinct circular shape and smaller pods in comparison to newer high yielding varieties, Palakudi, is a rarity these days and grown only in specific regions along the cardamom hills tract.

How do they taste?

Palakudi

Citrusy

Sweet & Nutty

Pungent

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Green cardamom was once a rare forest collectible. As a forest produce, there were many varieties (more than 25 identified) along the cardamom hills tract. Each variety was suitable for particular soil types and climate. When cardamom was domesticated and began its journey as a commercial crop, farmers planted the already existing indigenous varieties is each region. As time passed, their lower yields and increasing demand for cardamom led to newer innovations and experiments, many by the farmers themselves and others by agricultural scientists, resulting in hybrid cardamom varieties solely focused on high yields rather than anything else. Such varieties found rapid acceptance across the cardamom hills and attracted many into cardamom growing as the increased production led to higher incomes. However, this economic viability came at a cost. The high yielding varieties were not suitable for every soil type; they were less adaptable than indigenous ones and were susceptible to pest-attack and diseases.

 

With newer developments of chemical farming, the farmers in the cardamom hills also sought their solutions in them for a quick fix for the pest attacks and maintain higher yields. Thus began the rapid usage of chemical pesticides and fertilizers throughout the cardamom hills. In addition, with the market standards of size and colour rather than flavour and health benefits became prominent, the idea of making bigger, greener cardamom gained attention. And so, growth hormones made its entry in these hills. Today more than 90 percent of cardamom growers use chemical farming to grow their cardamom.

 

However, these developments were not feasible for the environment. The soil health degraded and plant health slowly deteriorated. And the usage of chemicals were doubled and tripled to maintain yields resulting in an unsustainable path for cardamom ahead. With fertility of soil slowly eroding and indigenous varieties disappearing, the cardamom hills, if continued in its present manner, may become unviable for the very crop they are home to. As a crop that gives millions of people livelihood, the stakes are very high.

 

Today, in the cardamom hills, finding cardamom that‘s grown chemical free is a task that few accomplish. And farmers who practice nature-friendly farming have become a rarity, a rarity that our partner farmers are part of.  Our farmers took over a decade to find a way back to growing cardamom naturally. It took them several years to find the right varieties, to select stronger plants in their existing cultivation, to rejuvenate their soil and bring back plant health and the thriving bio-diversity in their farms along with maintaining decent yields. Transitioning back to nature-friendly farming although sustainable in the long term is a challenge that many do not prefer as it requires patience, years of search for adaptable varieties and suffer loss of  yield for many years while the soil rejuvenates and more than anything, a shift in the mindset.

 

At Graamya, we work towards making this shift, finding these rarities in Idukki, to promote them, to give them a right share for their efforts, so that in the coming years chemical free cardamom is no longer a rarity but an easy to find, so that the people who grow it and consume it do not compromise on their health, the livelihoods remain sustainable and the soil richer than ever.

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Who grows our Cardamom?

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At the core of cardamom hills, in the Nedumkandam Panchayat of Idukki District, Kerala, Sunny and Rosamma grow different varieties of cardamom, naturally, along with other spices. Their farm majorly hosts the indigenous variety, Palakudi and the farmer-bred Njallani variety.

In their quest to embed sustainability in their lives and their work, this couple completely resorted to natural farming techniques in 2008. Through years of experiments and perseverance they have successfully managed to grow cardamom naturally and sustainably.

 

They didn’t just stop at this but also invented ways to process cardamom post-harvest efficiently in environment friendly ways using heat pump dryers. Enthusiasts of collecting different varieties, especially indigenous varieties, they also share their indigenous plants with other farmers through their nursery. We have been associated with them for the past 7 years.

Sunny and Rosamma 

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Towards the borders of the cardamom hills, in the Mankulam Panchayat of Idukki district, Kerala, Ajith grows his cardamom, mainly the farmer bred Njallani variety pesticide free using methods inspired from natural farming and microbial cultures.

It was with several years of research and experiments that he found a method suitable for his soil, land and climate to grow his Njallani variety chemical-free.

Ajith, an engineer turned farmer, also takes great care while harvesting so that only the matured pods are picked, so that the plant health and the quality of dried cardamom is maintained and enhanced. A farmer for the past 10 years, we have been associated with him for the past 1 year.

Ajith Kumar

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How it reaches you?

Farmer    Us       You

Cardamom is tricky crop to grow chemical free due to higher pest attacks on the plants. Therefore, choosing the right variety for a region and the right method of farming is important to control the diseases and pest attack and also maintain the richness of soil, health of its people and the environment.  Our farmers chose natural farming methods and indigenous and farmer bred varieties to grow cardamom, the right way, sustainable in the longer term.

 

Our farmers use Zero Budget Natural Farming also known as Spiritual Farming methods in their fields. This majorly includes usage of mixtures like Jiwamrita and Pathilakashayam. While Jiwamrita is a combination of cow dung and urine of indigenous cows, pulses, seasonal fruits, jaggery/sugarcane juice and a handful of soil used to rejuvenate soil and maintain a forest like condition for the plants, Pathilakashayam acts as a natural pesticide for the thrips and borer that are common in cardamom plantations. Pathilakashayam is a mixture of ten bitter leaves, indigenous cow’s urine, turmeric, garlic, ginger and chilli. These mixtures have to be sprayed consistently and frequently to grow the plants healthy and protect them from pest attack. Our farmers also use microbial cultures in accordance with the suggestions of experts.

 

As crucial as cultivation is, the harvest and post harvest processes of cardamom also plays an equal role in its quality. Only the ripe and physiologically ripe (known as karikai in Malayalam) are picked in each round of harvest. This skilfully hand-picked pods are then washed using water and is dried in dryers over 20 hrs at a temperature of 45-50 degree Celsius , so that flavour, aroma and other properties of cardamom are maintained. The cardamom is then sorted, graded and packed in opaque, air-tight packages to avoid any moisture. Most of the post-harvest activities are undertaken by Graamya at own facility.

Founders.JPG

At the core of cardamom hills, in the Nedumkandam Panchayat of Idukki District Kerala, Sunny and Rosamma grow different varieties of cardamom, naturally, along with other spices. Their farm majorly hosts the indigenous variety; Palakudi and the farmer bred Njallani Variety.

In their quest to embed sustainability in their lives and their work, they completely resorted to natural farming techniques in 2008. Through years of experiments and perseverance they have successfully managed to grow cardamom naturally and sustainably.

They didn’t just stop at this but also invented ways to process cardamom post-harvest efficiently in environment friendly ways using heat pump dryers. Enthusiasts of collecting different varieties, especially indigenous varieties, they also share their indigenous plants with other farmers through their nursery. We have been associated with them for the past 7 years.

Rosamma and Sunny Joseph

Ajith.jpeg

Towards the borders of the cardamom hills, in the Mankulam Panchayat of Idukki district, Kerala, Ajith grows his cardamom, mainly the farmer bred Njallani variety pesticide free using methods inspired from natural farming and microbial cultures.

It was with several years of research and experiments that he found a method suitable for his soil, land and climate to grow his Njallani variety chemical-free.

Ajith, an engineer turned farmer, also takes great care while harvesting so that only the matured pods are picked, so that the plant health and the quality of dried cardamom is maintained and enhanced. A farmer for the past 10 years, we have been associated with him for the past 1 year.

Ajith Kumar

Cardamom is tricky crop to grow chemical free due to higher pest attacks on the plants. Therefore, choosing the right variety for a region and the right method of farming is important to control the diseases and pest attack and also maintain the richness of soil, health of its people and the environment.  Our farmers chose natural farming methods and farmer bred varieties to grow cardamom, the right way, sustainable in the longer term.

 

Our farmers use Zero Budget Natural Farming also known as Spiritual Farming methods in their fields. This majorly includes usage of mixtures like Jiwamrita and Pathilakashayam. While Jiwamrita is a combination of cow dung and urine of indigenous cows, pulses, seasonal fruits, jaggery/sugarcane juice and a handful of soil used to rejuvenate soil and maintain a forest like condition for the plants, Pathilakashayam acts as a natural pesticide for the thrips and borer that are common in cardamom plantations. Pathilakashayam is a mixture of ten bitter leaves, indigenous cow’s urine, turmeric, garlic, ginger and chilli. These mixtures have to be sprayed consistently and frequently to grow the plants healthy and protect them from pest attack. Our farmers also use microbial cultures in accordance with the suggestions of experts.

 

As crucial as cultivation is, the harvest and post harvest processes of cardamom also plays an equal role in its quality. Only the ripe and physiologically ripe (known as karikai in Malayalam) are picked in each round of harvest. This skilfully hand-picked pods are then washed using water and is dried in dryers over 20 hrs at a temperature of 45-50 degree Celsius , so that flavour, aroma and other properties of cardamom are maintained. The cardamom is then sorted, graded and packed in opaque, air-tight packages to avoid any moisture. Most of the post-harvest activities are undertaken by Graamya at own facility.

Green cardamom was once a rare forest collectible. As a forest produce, there were many varieties (more than 25 identified) along the cardamom hills tract. Each variety was suitable for particular soil types and climate. When cardamom was domesticated and began its journey as a commercial crop, the farmers planted the already existing indigenous varieties is each region. As time passed, their lower yields and increasing demand for cardamom led to newer innovations and experiments, many by the farmers themselves and others by agricultural scientists, resulting in hybrid cardamom varieties solely focused on high yields rather than anything else. And across the cardamom hills, such varieties found rapid acceptance and attracted many into cardamom growing, as the increased production led to higher incomes. However, this economic viability came at a cost. The high yielding varieties were not suitable for every soil type; they were less adaptable than indigenous ones and were susceptible to pest- attack and diseases.

 

With newer developments of chemical farming, the farmers in the cardamom hills also sought their solutions in them for a quick fix for the pest attacks and maintain higher yields. Thus began the rapid usage of chemical pesticides and fertilizers throughout the cardamom hills. In addition, with the market standards of size and colour rather than flavour and health benefits became prominent, the idea of making bigger, greener cardamom gained attention. And so growth hormones made its entry in these hills. Today more than 90 percent of cardamom growers use chemical farming to grow their cardamom.

 

However, these developments were not feasible for the environment. The soil health degraded and plant health slowly deteriorated. And the usage of chemicals were doubled and tripled to maintain yields resulting in an unsustainable path for cardamom ahead. With fertility of soil slowly eroding and indigenous varieties disappearing, the cardamom hills, if continued in its present manner, may become unviable for the very crop they are home to. As a crop that gives millions of people livelihood, the stakes are very high.

 

Today in the cardamom hills finding cardamom that‘s grown chemical free is a task that few accomplish. And farmers who practice nature-friendly farming have become a rarity, a rarity that our partner farmers are part of.  Our farmers took over a decade to find a way back to growing cardamom naturally. It took them several years to find the right varieties, to select stronger plants in their existing cultivation, to rejuvenate their soil and bring back plant health and the thriving bio-diversity in their farms along with maintaining decent yields. Transitioning back to nature-friendly farming, although sustainable in the long term is a challenge that many do not prefer as it requires patience, suffer loss yield for many years while the soil rejuvenates and years of search for adaptable varieties and more than anything, a shift in the mindset.

 

At Graamya, we work towards making this shift, finding these rarities in Idukki, to promote them, to give them a right share for their efforts, so that in the coming years chemical free cardamom is no longer a rarity but an easy to find, so that the people who grow it and consume it do not compromise on their health, the livelihoods remain sustainable and the soil richer than ever.