Feminization, agricultural transition and rural employment

Women in Value Chain of Cardamom in Eastern Nepal: reflections on challenges and opportunities in the current context


By Bishnu Raj Upreti and Sharmila Shivakoti,

NCCR in collaboration with the Department of Development Studies (DDS), School of Arts (SoA) of Kathmandu University is conducting Nepal component of long term research project entitled: Feminization, Agricultural Transition, and Rural Employment (FATE), which is a 6 Years Research progrmme funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Swiss agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and led by the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) and Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (ICFG) of the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Field visit in the cardamom farm, January 2017

In the first stage of the research project, NCCR examined the production part of the value chain, impacts of cash crops (cardamom and ginger) in empowerment of women and their engagement in socio-political spheres. Findings of the first stage of study provided basis for the Nepal Team to explore further focusing to post-production (processing, marketing and consumption) part of the cash crops value chain.  Hence, since January 2017, FATE Nepal team started exploring the dynamics of post production (processing, marketing and consumption) part of the cardamom value chain.


Cardamom value chain, MSFP, 2014

The figure above represents the value chain map of cardamom. A value chain process of cardamom involves preparation of land, plantation and weeding, watering the plants, harvesting and picking ripe cardamom fruits, separating it from flowers, drying the cardamom, cutting the tail of the dried cardamom and finally taking it to the market (KC, Upreti and Subedi 2016). There are various actors’ involved in the process who have different roles and functions. The primary actors of cardamom value chain include farmers or collectors. The village or district level traders buy from farmers and sell it at the regional traders/markets. Then it is exported to India (MFSP 2014).

Value chain analysis can become a tool for addressing gender inequities. Participation of women in cardamom value chains can be beneficial if they have power over resources and decision-making. Hence, it is directly related to the economic empowerment of women. Women can benefit from the cardamom value chain only when they have power over division on labour, income, ownership, sale and use of earnings form cardamom.

Different steps of cardamom production

The study of FATE Nepal team focusing to the Cardamom Value Chain in the past 5 months brings some interesting preliminary issues to be examined further in the coming years. They are:

Based on the synthesis of the previous studies and summarizing the specific responses of the respondents during our field visit of Jhapa (Birtamod), Ilam (Ilam municipality), Phidim (Phidim municipality) and Taplejung district (25-30 May 2017); we reach the following general conclusions: