2018 Kodagu floods hit cardamom garland-making families

Losing aroma

Haider Ali Patavegar busy making cardamom garland in Haveri. Patavegar family is into the business for the past seven decades. DH PHOTO

The welcome arch at the entrance of Haveri greets visitors Yelakki Kampina Nagarakke Swagata (welcome to the city of cardamom aroma). But the city is losing its aroma, courtesy 2018 floods in Kodagu and Kerala.

Yes, last year’s flood has shot up prices of cardamom to astronomical heights, spelling doom for the families involved in making the spice garlands.

Cardamom is largely grown in Karnataka’s Kodagu, Uttara Kannada, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The manufacturers here used to source out finest grade of cardamoms for making garlands from Kodagu and Kerala.

But the prices of the spice has soared as the yield has gone down considerably owing to the 2018 floods in Kodagu and hilly districts of Kerala.

Haider Ali of Patavegar family, which has a reputation in making fine spice garlands, told DH, “We used to buy 30 kg to 50 kg of fine quality cardamom at
Rs 1,800 per kg for making garlands. But, these days, we are
not getting good quality cardamom. Also, the prices have shot up. Cardamoms, fit for making garlands, are sold at Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per kg.”

Patavegar family is into cardamom garland-making business for the past seven decades. The family has won many state-level awards.

In fact, scores of families are into the spice garland business in the narrow streets of Haveri, says Haji Usmansab Patavegar.

Despite shortage of good quality cardamom and soaring prices, the garland makers have not increased the prices for they fear losing out customers.

We have not increased the price of garlands. We sell garlands in the range of Rs 150 to Rs 10,000, based on the size and craftsmanship.

There is a huge demand for the spice garlands for the government and private programmes and family functions, he explained.

Many workers employed by the garland-making families have lost their jobs due to non-availability of cardamom pods. A few families have stopped making spice garlands while several of them have reduced the volume of production.

Art unique to Haveri

The garland-makers source out finest quality cardamom pods from Kodagu, Kerala and TN. Cardamom pods are washed in saline water mixed with bleaching powder for a week.

The pods are then washed and dried. The garland-makers then string white and shiny pods with beads and other decorative items. This art is unique to Haveri, says Haider Ali Patavegar

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