It was here in this part of the Western Ghats in Idukki, Kerala where the first wild cardamom plants were found in India, which was later reintroduced as a cash crop. Cardamom often referred to as the queen of spice is grown widely by planters in Idukki. Its cultivation is very popular that even small households have their share of farming, though on a smaller scale.
In olden days the yield was harvested and was sold to local traders who took them to larger traders or exporters, who eventually exported it around the world. It was some years back the Spices Board of India introduced the Cardamom auction center at Puttady, a few kilometers from our place. At Puttady, the cardamom auctioning center has a computerized system where registered traders and exporters can take part in the auctioning process. This system gives the planters and farmers direct access to bigger buyers, where they get the desired price for their yield.
A visit to the auctioning center is possible with prior permission. By the time you enter the auction hall aromas of cardamom tickle your sense. A representative of the Spices Board who has in-depth knowledge of the crop decides the base price of the lot. Once the auction is set, a sample of the lot kept for auction is offered to the traders to understand the quality of the lot kept for bidding. The decisions are made swiftly, as the bell rings the bidding starts, and traders bid through their computers. A price that sustains for seven seconds would be the final price for the lot kept for auction, and the last bidder takes that lot of Cardamom. It is fascinating to see the auction and the bidding process…We have been explaining about this to our guests, and for those of them who want to experience this place, we take prior approval from the spice board and bring them for a visit. This auction happens only on selected days and only in two locations, one at Bodinaykanur, Theni and the other at Puttady, Idukki – just a few kilometers from Beaumont Plantation Retreat.