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Myanmar priest plants cardamom to create jobs and maintain nature

Father Peter Zang Yaw Hpung, the first parish priest of Zang Yaw Parish (Photo by RVA Kachin Lisu)

Myanmar priest plans to create jobs for the locals and maintain nature by planting black cardamom plants in Zang Yaw village within three years.

Father Peter Zang Yaw Hpung, newly appointed as the first parish priest of Zang Yaw Parish, plans to plant (30,000) black cardamom saplings within three years in Zang Yaw village.

“First, I aim to create jobs for local people. Second, I preserve nature because it does not need to clear the existing forests to plant cardamom. It needs shady places. It is not like growing paddy in the forest,” he shared.

Cardamom is best grown in humid, cold, shady, and hilly places. It is widely used to flavor daily food and baking bread worldwide.

“I am planning to grow ten thousand black cardamom plants each year. Within (3) years, thirty thousand plants must be grown. This is one of my visions,” Father Hpung asserted.

The newly created Zang Yaw parish is full of hills, thick forests, cold weather, and humid places, so it is one of the best conditions to plant cardamom plants in Myanmar.

As Zang Yaw is close to the border of China, residents around are mostly growing black cardamom and exporting the fruits to China.

Black Cardamom tree (Photo supplied)

The priest affirmed, “black cardamom can be planted with a distance of 15 feet between each. There will be 200 acres for 30,000 plants. It is harvestable after 4 years. Its lifespan is more than 15 years.”

The budget for the project he planned is still far from enough.

“I need to find ways to get funds for this project. Currently, I have a budget for this year only,” Father Hpung explained.

Before Covid Pandemic, local people from Zang Yaw and nearby villages mainly grew cardamom, but they quit extending lands because the road to China was shut down.

As they rely only on cardamom, they can hardly sustain the balance of their daily life. They turn to grow paddy again.

A villager A Nyi told RVA, “Now people in Zang Yaw are no longer relying on the black cardamom alone, they are planting paddy as Plan B.”

The priest highlighted, “Cardamom is essential for our daily basic needs. It is being used widely in restaurants. People here are reluctant to grow more. I want to show how it is useful and beneficial. I need to be the pioneer so that they understand and follow me.”

Father Hpung is a former coordinator of Radio Veritas Asia Kachin Lisu Service.

Zang Yaw village is located about 370 miles from Myitkyina, the northern part of Myanmar. The village is one of the remotest places, so transportation is challenging.

It took four days to arrive at the village, by car and on foot. It is two days by car and two days on foot along the road. By Chwar Thar


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.