Guatemala, homeland to the ancient Mayans, is one of the world’s largest exporters of cardamom. Although the spice is native to southern Asia, the climate and altitude of the Guatemalan highlands support the plant as well. Once dried and processed, the spice is popular in curries, coffee, and a variety of other dishes in India, the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia.
This global supply chain and our journey began in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala where hidden in the green mountains are pockets of farming communities. In these communities the Cardamom plant grows year round but can only be harvested between October and December each year. Pods are harvested by hand and sent to be dried, sorted by size and quality, and then packaged for export.
While there we met with farmers, dryers, co-op members, and industry leaders in the area to get a full picture of the current value chain. The biggest challenges they face are pests, a lack of training, and a global over-supply. We recognize that solutions can’t be found and implemented in a short period of time, but we still look forward to working with these farmers and organizations to find strategies for success.