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Enabling global marketability for this distinct product from the Kangchenjunga Landscape
How can unique mountain products stand out in highly competitive markets? We have long deliberated on this for large black cardamom, a species that originated in the Kangchenjunga Landscape – shared by Bhutan, India, and Nepal. From 2005 to 2016, the demand for large black cardamom increased fivefold, but its yield has stagnated and its share in international trade is decreasing. Cultivation of large black cardamom is very suited to the landscape’s conditions, yet farmers in the three countries have struggled to prominently position the product in a global market increasingly dominated by other cardamom species.
Our dialogues with farmers, experts, and policy makers over the years have focused on increasing yield and transboundary collaboration for value chain development. But the issue of marketing large black cardamom as a unique product persists.
To address marketing concerns, we organized a webinar in December 2020 focused on considering whether a geographical indication tag can help distinguish large black cardamom from other cardamom species and establish it as a niche Himalaya product that originated from the landscape – much like Darjeeling tea, Kintamani Bali Arabica coffee, Champagne, or Scottish whisky. A geographical indication certificate has the potential to assist in establishing common regional standards for production, and to allow the three countries to collectively inform customers about product attributes − unique benefits, cultivation practices, and producers.
Pursuing a geographical indication certification will take time, but in the meantime, to help build understanding and to create an enabling environment, we will publish a policy brief based on this webinar’s key takeaways to make the case. The representatives from Bhutan, India, and Nepal agreed to the key highlights of the draft policy brief presented at the meeting.
Mountain farmers need to be supported to continue producing and marketing niche products that have comparative advantages. Recovery efforts in the post-pandemic setting should support small mountain enterprises to innovate and deliver resilient businesses at scale, establish strategic partnerships across mountain value chains, and access financial and market services.(Paraphrased from ICIMOD 2020, COVID-19 impact and policy responses in the Hindu Kush Himalaya)
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