Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum), is one of the main cash crops cultivated in Sikkim and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. India is the largest producer of large cardamom in the world and Sikkim contributes to it significantly. Large cardamom is also cultivated in parts of Uttarakhand and in some other North-eastern states. It is also cultivated in Nepal and Bhutan. It is used as a spice in several ayurvedic preparations. It contains 2-3% essential oil and possesses medicinal properties.
Large cardamom has a pleasant aromatic odour, due to which it is extensively used for flavouring vegetables and many food preparations in India. It is also used as an essential ingredient in mixed spices preparation. Apart from aroma, large cardamom also has high medicinal value. The decoction of seeds is used as a gargle in infection of teeth and gums. Large cardamom seeds are considered as an antidote to either snake venom or scorpion venom. It is also reported that large cardamom seeds are used as preventive as well as curative measure for throat troubles, congestion of lungs, inflammation of eyelids, digestive disorders and in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
The crop grows well under the shade of forest trees at altitudes ranging from 1000-2000 metres with a rainfall of 3000-3500 mm per annum. Deep and well drained soils with a loamy texture are best suited for cardamom. The soil in Sikkim is generally rich in organic matter and nitrogen, medium in available phosphorus and medium to high in available potash. The soils have a pH range from 4.5 to 6.0. Even though the crop can be grown in undulating and steep terrains, land with a more moderate slope is preferred.
There are mainly five popular cultivars of large cardamom, viz., Ramsey, Sawney, Golsey, Varlangey and Seremna. Bebo, Boklok Tali, Jaker and Belak are the other cultivars found in Arunachal Pradesh.