Field Visit to a Farm Growing Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a popular spice the world over – right from being a ‘must have’ for adding zing to apple pies to a much loved ingredient for Indian Pulav (fried rice), Cinnamon finds a place in the spice racks of most households.
Have You Ever Wondered Where It Grows, How It Is Collected, and What the Plant Looks Like?
We bring you a first-hand report from a lady farmer in Mawtnum village of Meghalaya who grows cinnamon. Read on and your questions will be answered..
In the first week of May 2015 Zizira explorers visited Mawtnum village, which is in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya. The State of Meghalaya is divided into 11 districts for the sake of efficient administration.
Duh, a lady farmer of Mawtnum, took the team around her field where both fruits and spices grow. She was happy to share her knowledge and experiences. Star fruits, Papaya, Jack Fruit, Pineapple and Oranges are some of the fruits she grows.
Here is a picture perfect pineapple in its ‘baby’ phase from Duh’s farm. A mature, ready to be harvested pineapple will be three to four times this size. Does it not look like a king sitting grandly on his throne?
Duh grows a variety of spices too – Bay Leaves, Cinnamon, green pepper, ginger and a unique variety of chilly.
All her produce is sold in the local markets. She told the team that the rate she gets depends on the market price on the day the produce reaches the market.
Star fruit or carambola, as it is called, grows in plenty but there are times when farmer Duh does not make any money selling the fruit.
A pity considering this fruit has medicinal value – it is rich in Vitamin C and is said to be good for the Liver and cures jaundice.
She finds that the fruit does not have a long shelf life and rots if not sold quickly. As many farmers grow Star fruits, the supply is more than the demand.
We at Zizira are thinking to slice and dehydrate the Carambola fruit and test its acceptability with consumers. If this fruit is so healthy and many farmers grow it – can we create a market for dried carambola and increase the demand? And, perhaps, get better returns to the farmers?
Another potential will be to make juices and squashes with carambola, which will not only increase shelf life, but could also find a market.
Now for News About Cinnamon…
Cinnamon saplings started to grow on their own in Duh’s farm and soon matured into trees!
Here is a picture of a saplings of the Cinnamon tree. You will notice that the leaves are similar to bay leaves. Cinnamon is the bark.
Did you know that Cinnamon sticks are ‘peeled’ off the tree when the tree is just 2 or 3 years old.The bark thus peeled is dried in the hot sun for a week. It is then ready to be sold! Trees more than 3 years old are not peeled for Cinnamon sticks as they lose their taste. The trees are peeled from the month of January to the first week of April.
Did you know? When the barks are peeled, the trees are cut down?
From around the base, new saplings grow and voila you have more cinnamon trees and more cinnamon! That is how generous nature is.
The wood of the cinnamon trees that are cut are used as firewood.
Trivia: Did you know that Cinnamon grows well near bamboo plants?
Fires and the smoke are threats to cinnamon cultivation. Cinnamon tree slowly dies when exposed to smoke. The dry months are risky for fires.
Farmers like Duh Deserve More
Duh told the Zizira explorers that this year she was able to harvest 200 Kilograms of Cinnamon sticks and sold them at Rs. 35 per Kg. Remember all her produce is totally organic.
On doing some back-end research, we found that organic Cinnamon can command a price of up to Rs. 85 for 100 gms! If you work the numbers you will realize that Duh could have made at least 10 or 15 times more money if she knew how to market!
Maybe the Zizira team should step in and help her package and market her organic Cinnamon?
More on Duh and her organic ginger in the next post.