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An International Refereed, Peer Reviewed & Indexed Quarterly Journal in Science, Agriculture & Engineering
Prem Ranjan, 2Jitson Achom, 3Manjeet Prem, 4Sajesh Chettri, 5Pema T. Lepcha, 6Thameridus B. Marak
Department of Processing and Food Engineering, College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology (CAU),
Ranipool, East Sikkim, India-737135.
(Received: 01.10.17; Revised: 08.11.2017; Accepted: 09.11.2017)
The large cardamom is one of the most important spice crops grown in the Himalayan region of Sikkim, India. India is the second largest
producer of large-cardamom in the world next to Nepal. The dried fruits of large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.), a high-value spice
crop. It is used in foods, beverages, perfumes, and medicines. Production is currently declining, and the improved postharvest process would
be one way to help ensure the sustainability of this position crop. The drying by the traditional system have reduces the quality of cardamom
capsules (colour, flavor and oil content etc.) and as well as cost. This article reviews the crop's drying by a different system (traditional,
improved, electric and diesel operated, and solar drying). In this article, we see that the good quality of the product is found in improved
dryers. Also, the solar dryer system has a good quality product and it was reported that solar dryer system saves about 50% of drying time
for the solar dryer in comparison to the open sun drying of large cardamom capsules.
Key words: Bhatti’s, capsules, curing, dryer, flavor,
Introduction troubles, congestion of lungs, inflammation of eyelids, digestive
Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) is one of the popular disorders and in the treatment of lung tuberculosis.
spices that comes under the family Zingiberaceae. Eastern Himalayas Materials and Methods
region as its origin where wild species are still located (Sharma et al., Varieties of large cardamom
2000). Cardamom is the world's third-most expensive spice, exceeded The local varieties of large cardamom found in Himalayan regions
in price per weight only by vanilla and saffron. It is an ancient spice- are Ramsey, Golsey, Chibesey, Dambersey, Sawney and Kantidar.
cummedicinal herb. India is the largest producer and exporter of The most important varieties found in Sikkim include Ramsey,
large-cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb). The other major Golsey, Sawney, Kopringery, Madhusay and Rhangbhang. In this
producers of large-cardamom are Nepal and Bhutan. Its cultivation is variety, only Ramsey, Golsey and Sawney are considered for
confined in Eastern Himalaya covering Sikkim, West Bengal commercial production as these cultivars are well suited to high
(Darjeeling hills) and Arunachal Pradesh. It is one of the most altitudes and can be cultivated even in steep slopes (Harktkamp,
important livelihood sources for mountain people in the Himalayan 1993). Some of the varieties of cultivars grown in Sikkim are given
region. It is a low volume high-value crop (Avasthe et al. 2011). It in table 1.
has been considered important since many centuries in Ayurvedic Beneficial uses of large cardamom
preparation and Unani system of medicines (Madhusoodanan and The seeds of large cardamom have been used to flavor food,
Rao 2001). It is known by various names such as Bhadr (Sanskrit), confections, beverages and liquids (Singh et al., 2008). Furthermore,
Bari elaichi (Hindi), Greater or Nepal cardamom(English), it has been used as an insecticide as well (Satyal et al., 2012). Its
Cardamom(French), Ts’ ao-k’ ou (Chinese). usage in Ayurvedic is well known from prehistoric time. It is used as
India is the second largest producer and exporter in the world. Total flavoring and preservative to different types of coffee, liquors,
area under cultivation of large cardamom in India is 30,000 ha. and confections, beverages and tobacco. Volatile oil (2-4%) is the
production is 5,000 MT. At the national level, Sikkim contributes 89 principal aroma-giving compound in large cardamom and 1,8-
% large cardamom area and 86 % production. A farmer can earn of cineole is the major active compound after compound, in an extent 60
Rs. 25,000 to 30,000 from one-hectare plantations. The crop grows to 80% of the total volatile oil. Alcohol and aqueous extract of large
well in the shade of forest trees at altitudes ranging from 6002000 m. cardamom have been reported to contain allopathic, analgesic, anti-
with a rainfall of 20003500 mm per annum at temperature 530 0C. inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiulcer, cardio-
Deep and well-drained soils with a loamy texture are best suited for apoptogenic and hypolipidemic activities. Large cardamom and its
cardamom. The soil in Sikkim is generally rich in organic matter and powder, oleoresin and essential oils have many culinary and
nitrogen, medium in available phosphorus and medium to high in therapeutic uses (Gautam et al. 2016).
available potash. The soils have a pH range from 4.5 to 6.0. Even Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) has been used for the
though the crop can be grown in undulating and steep terrains, land treatment of various diseases and disorders like gastric, ulcer. Hence,
with a more moderate slope is preferred. It is a tall, perennial, the antimicrobial activity of petroleum ether, methanol and aqueous
evergreen, herbaceous monocot plant (Gopal et al., 2012). The height extracts from leaves and roots, essential oil and isolated vasicine from
of cardamom plant ranges from 1.5-3.0 m and leaves are found at the A. vasica were tested against various microorganisms. Antimicrobial
upper portion of the stem (Bisht et al., 2011). activity was done by disc diffusion method. The zone of inhibition
Large cardamom has a pleasant aromatic odour, due to which it is observed was compared with that of standard drugs, ciprofloxacin
extensively used for flavouring vegetables and many food and fluconazole. Minimum inhibitory concentration was determined
preparations in India. It is also used as an essential ingredient in against microorganisms. The methanol extract of fruits of large
mixed spices preparation. The large cardamom capsule contains 23 % cardamom shows notable antimicrobial activity against Escherichia
of essential oil. Apart from the aroma, large cardamom also has high coli whereas in case of other microorganisms used it was found
medicinal value. The decoction of seeds is used as a mouthwash in inferior to the standard drug used. The methanol extract of rind
infection of teeth and gums. Large cardamom also possesses curative presented good antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus.
properties and be one of the major spices which are mentioned in It was found that the essential oil isolated was effective against the
Ayurveda and Unani medicine (Chempakam and Sindhu, 2008). majority of microorganisms used viz. Bacillus pumilus,
Large cardamom seeds are considered as an antidote to either snake Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas
venom or scorpion venom. It is also reported that large cardamom aeruginosa, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Agnihotri and Wakode,
seeds are used as preventive as well as a medicinal measure for throat 2010).
Results and Discussion
An International Refereed, Peer Reviewed & Indexed Quarterly Journal in Science, Agriculture & Engineering
Drying of large cardamom use it due to poverty as they cannot invest that the huge amount of
After harvesting of the cardamom, capsules are dried either in fuel money in the construction of modern dryer. About, 32.9 % of
Kiln or electrical drier or in the sun drying. Soaking freshly harvested households used traditional bhattis due to both lacks the idea and
green cardamom capsules in 2 % washing soda solution for 10 mins. economic cause. Also, 6.3 % of households did not answer the
previous to drying helps to retain original green colour during drying. question as they were not involved in cardamom cultivation and some
Under flue pipe dryer, it should be dried at 4550 °C for 14 to 18 didn’t respond, as their cardamom had not come into production stage
hours, while over-night drying at 5060°C is required in an electric (Yadav, 2013).
dryer. The cardamom capsules are spread thinly and stirred frequently The traditional Bhatti's is developed by farmers and used for curing
to ensure uniform drying. The dried cardamom capsules are rubbed fresh large cardamom capsules (Sharma et al. 2000) ; it is a direct
with hands or agitated to confirm uniform drying. After drying, they heating system, and drying time is required 25–40 hours (Mande et.
are winnowed to remove any foreign matter. Then capsules are sorted al. 1999). The fuel efficiency of this system is very poor (Rao et al.
according to size and colour and stored in black polythene lined 2001) ; it requires 2.5 kg of fuelwood to produce 1 kg of dried
gunny bags to retain the green colour during storage (Anonymous, capsules (Sharma et al. 2009). The quality of cardamom capsules
2015). cured in traditional Bhatti's is poor. They are dark brown colour and
Traditional Bhatti’s have a smoky flavour; the quantity of charred and cracked capsules is
high, as is the loss of volatile oil. But, the cost of building and
maintenance of a bhatti’s is low. A traditional bhatti’s can easily
make using locally available materials and requires no scientific
Farmers have practised traditional method of processing cardamom.
The cardamom capsules are dried in traditional bhattis. The fuel
(wood) is consumed in the ratio of 4:1 for cured cardamom; about
Figure.1. Traditional Bhatti (Source: Sharma et al. 2000) 800 kg/ha of wood are required to cure 200 kg/ha of the finished
Drying of cardamom capsules is mostly achieved by traditional product. Recently, some institutions have developed improved
wood-fired dryers, which are built in the orchard. However, this Bhatti's and gasifiers for curing as well as capsule tail cutting and
traditional processing method causes blackening of the capsules and polishing machines for added value; but farmers have not been
gives smoky flavor (Oli, 2011). Cardamom capsules are spread adopting these technologies (Sharma et al. 2000).
uniformly in a thick layer of 25-30cm on a bamboo mat placed over Gasifier based curing system
the frames of wood firing pit. Capsules are then dried by the The Tata Research Institute (TERI) developed and introduced a
combined effect of heat and smoke generated by the burning of wood. gasifier based curing system constituting of an updraft biomass
Drying process takes about 24 to 28 hours and frequent racking is gasifier connected from the gasifier is connected to a traditional
made to get uniform drying. After uniform drying, the capsules are Bhatti (TERI, 2012). In this system producer gas obtained from the
rubbed against the rough surface in order to remove the tail (Tamang, gasifier was used for heating of the capsules. Since the producer gas
2000; Oli, 2011). The quality of cardamom capsules dried in does not produce smoke, the quality of the cured capsules reported
traditional bhattis is poor and they have a dark brown colour with a having been better than that of the traditional Bhatti. Singh and
smoky flavor. There is a production of large quantity of burned, Pothula, (2013) have mentioned that the better quality of dried
cracked capsules having less volatile oil in traditionally dried capsules was produced by improved dryer than that of capsules dried
capsules. However, no scientific knowledge is required to build this in traditional Bhatti.
kind of traditional bhattis. In the villages of producing areas, The advantages of the gasifier based curing system over traditional
building, operation and management cost of bhattis is cheap and they Bhatti are better in energy conversion efficiency, controlled
are mostly constructed from locally available materials (Singh et al., combustion, and production of the flue gases (Rao et al.2001). The
1989). gasifier based curing system has more than 70%heatconversion
For the long-duration storage of cardamom capsules and in order to efficiencies. Fuelwood saving was reported up to 60-65% (Rao et
bring out its aroma, the fresh cardamom capsules (with 80-85% al.2001). it also produces capsules of attractive colour and greater
moisture) has to be dried immediately after harvesting to bring down volatile oil content. However, this curing system is not usually used
its moisture content to less than 10% (w. b.) through a curing (drying) by farmers. Chipping of fuel woods and the additional cost of
process. Still, a primitive and inefficient (operating efficiency level of installing the gasifier might be the reason for unacceptability by the
about 5-15%) smoking method (using traditional Bhatti's) is being large cardamom farmers. The cost of this curing system ₹12,000.00
used for drying of large-cardamom resulting in huge (estimated (Deka et al., 2003).
20,000 MT/yr.) wastage of fuel wood and poor (charred and ICRI improved Bhatti curing system
blackened) quality product (Rao et al., 2001). The various Indian Cardamom Research Institute (ICRI) also developed improved
inadequacies of this system make traditional bhatti’s less than Bhatti for curing of large cardamom which is shown in figure no.2.
desirable for producing a marketable end product. Drawbacks include This system is an indirect heating dryer. The capacity of this Bhatti
uneven heating and drying; loss of volatile oils in the dried capsules varies from 200–400 kg fresh capsules. Heated air is used for curing
(Zala, 2002); loss of the characteristic rich, dark red colour; charring; the capsules which are supplied by flue gas pipes.
and an infusion of smokiness from the wood fire below (Rao et al.,
All, more or less the households of producing area used traditional
bhattis for drying cardamom. These traditional techniques consume
much more firewood than the modern dryer, and the quality of the
cardamom also degrades when the traditional dryer is used. In this
system, the cardamom capsules come in direct contact with the
smoke and turn the capsule to a dark brown-black colour with a
smoky smell. About, 53.2 % of households had not used modern Figure 2: ICRI improved Bhatti for curing of large cardamom
dryer due to lack of information. Also, 7.6 % of households did not (Source: Vijayan et al. 2013)
An International Refereed, Peer Reviewed & Indexed Quarterly Journal in Science, Agriculture & Engineering
Deka et al. (2003) reported that curing time of capsules in this system University), Ranipool (27° 20′ N, 88° 40′ E), Gangtok, Sikkim. It was
is 17–24 hr. and it gives excellent product quality with volatile oil observed that on an average 55.7% of higher temperature was
content in the range of 2%-4% and the colour of the capsules is obtained in the solar dryer over the ambient temperature. A total
maroon. The cost of one ICRI improved Bhatti is ₹5,000 (Deka et al., drying time of 24 hr. (3 sunny days) was required for large cardamom
2003). The ICRI improved Bhatti(s) are being used by few farmers in drying in the solar dryer to reduce the moisture content from 75.6%
Arunachal Pradesh, India (Singh et al., 2013). It is also introduced in (w.b.) to 10.1% (w.b.) compared to that of 48 h for the open sun
the Sikkim, India by Spices Board of India but farmers are reluctant drying to obtain the same level of moisture contents resulting in a net
to adopt it due to some specific reasons (Anonymous, 2007). Stoep saving of about 50% of drying time for the solar dryer in comparison
(2010) reported that use of similar kind of curing system is also found to the open sun drying (Seveda & Jhajharia 2012).
in Nepal. Solar-biomass hybrid dryer
Improved Bhatti’s
Traditional bhatti’s are improved for more efficient and effective
drying of large cardamom capsules, where heating is performed
indirectly through hot air and smoke is released outwards. Hence, use
of heat in the absence of smoke in improved dryers, they give more
natural colour and better-quality product than traditional method (Oli,
2011). Department of food technology and quality control (DFTQC),
Nepal has developed six drum dryers containing two sections- firing
and drying sections for more efficient and effective drying of
cardamom capsules. These sections are enclosed in a wall made of
stone and mud and the whole assembly is kept under the enclosed
covered structure. The capacity of this dryer varies from 360 kg to
400 kg of fresh cardamom and the drying time is reported to have 24
hr (Oli, 2011). Gurudutt and Naik, (2000) reported that in the
improved method, cured capsules are dried into two stages, at 60ºC Figure 4. Solar-biomass hybrid dryer (Source: Sankar, V. A.,
and 55ºC respectively to get the desired moisture content (approx. 10- 2017)
12%). The content is then cooled, cleaned, tails are removed and The developed solar-biomass hybrid dryer was fabricated and tested
capsules are graded according to their size. Those capsules are at College of Agricultural Engineering and Post Harvest Technology,
packed in jute bags (waterproof lined with polythene) and stored in Central Agricultural University, Ranipool, Gangtok, Sikkim. The
dry places (Oli, 2011). developed solar-biomass hybrid dryer was used for drying of large
Singh and Pothula, (2013) stated that another dryer containing cardamom to use solar energy as the main heat source and biomass
mechanical trolley system operated by diesel or electricity. This gasifier was used only when solar energy was not available during
curing system consisting of a blower, a heating unit, and a multi-tray early morning, late evening, cloudy weather conditions and at night.
curing chamber, similar to a mechanical cabinet tray dryer. This The average gasifier efficiency and combustion efficiency of the
system works effectively and produces high-quality dried capsules. solar-biomass hybrid dryer for drying of large cardamom were
Its capacity is 600 kg and curing time is 12 hrs. Another dryer having 71.57% and 55.36% respectively. The study also revealed that about
indirect heat curing system. They also stated and is called the rocket 6 kg of biomass was sufficient for operating of gasifier and drying of
stove dryer, which has been introduced as part of a Netherlands 20 kg of large cardamom in the solar-biomass hybrid dryer. The
Development Organization initiative in Nepal. This flue-gas-based temperature attained in the drying chamber of solar biomass hybrid
system produces less smoke and is reported to produce high-quality dryer system was up to 70°C in the gasifier mode and 66.6°C in the
capsules (Stoep, 2010). There are several reports of curing systems solar mode of operation.
developed in India by the research institute, G.B. Pant Institute of 6. Miscellaneous curing systems
Himalayan Environment and the Development and Central Food G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development
Technological Research Institute in Mysore (Singh and Pothula, (GBPIHED) and Central Food Technological Research Institute,
2013) , but none are in use by farmers so far. These dryers are not Mysore (CFTRI) have also developed curing systems for large
cost effective as compared to traditional cured capsules dryers. cardamom but none is in use by the farmers so far (Madhusoodanan
Hence, use of modified dryer by farmers are very rare. et al., 2001; Deka et al., 2003).
An indirect heating system, called ‘rocket stove dryer’ has recently
Solar dryer
been introduced in Nepal by the Netherlands Development
Organization (Stoep, 2010). It is a flue gas heating type of curing
system with less amount of smoke. This system is reported to have
produced quality large cardamom capsules.
The Spices Board of India has also developed a modified bhatti with
a 200 kg or 400 kg capacity. This modified bhatti uses heat that is
more evenly distributed to cure the cardamom and generate a higher
quality product and is accessible at a subsidized rate by the Spices
Board under the scheme of ‘Export Oriented Production and Post-
Harvest Improvement of Spices (Spices Board 2011).
Large cardamom capsules have great demand in the international
Figure 3. Solar dryer for large cardamom (Source : Seveda & market due to his pleasant aromatic odour, and flavor. It is a
Jhajharia 2012)). medicinal measure for throat troubles, congestion of lungs,
A solar dryer was designed, fabricated, and evaluated for drying of inflammation of eyelids, digestive disorders and in the treatment of
large cardamom (Amomum Subulatum) at College of Agricultural lung tuberculosis. Drying of capsules is generally done by the
Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology, (Central Agricultural traditional bhattis. Which greatly affect the quality (colour and oil
An International Refereed, Peer Reviewed & Indexed Quarterly Journal in Science, Agriculture & Engineering
content etc.) of capsules. These traditional Bhatti's are made of Oli, P. (2011). Post-Harvest Technology of Tea, Coffee and Spices,
locally available material. Now, many improved Bhatti's, gasifier, First Ed. Lalitpur Valley College, Nepal.
electric or diesel operated and solar dryer are designed by the Rao, V. G., Mande, S., & Kishore, V. V. N. (2001). Study of drying
research institutes. These dryers produce dried capsules that have a characteristics of large-cardamom. Biomass and Bioenergy, 20(1),
more attractive colour and larger volatile oil content. These improved 37-43.
dryers cost is more than the traditional bhatti’s, it is not being Sankar, V. A., (2017) Design and Development of Solar - Biomass
afforded by the small farmers. Also, due to lack of knowledge, the Hybrid Dryer for Large Cardamom Drying. [M.Tech thesis, Advisor-
farmers not used these improved dryers. Seveda, M.S.]. Sikkim, India: College of Agricultural Engineering
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