This paper analyses the impact of commercial cardamom farming on the livelihoods of women, revisiting the concept of the “feminization of poverty”. For the analysis of cash crop farming in Eastern Nepal, both quantitative and qualitative approaches have been used. A quantitative survey was conducted in 513 households in Ilam district between November and December 2015 followed by qualitative data collection. A literature review on the feminization of poverty and cash crop farming has also been included. A descriptive data analysis has been conducted from the perspective of the feminization of poverty against the background of cash crop farming. The paper concludes that women of different ethnic backgrounds engaged in commercial cardamom farming have been able to improve their livelihoods, spend on their children’s education, their family’s health and invest in savings. For marginalized communities the impact is even more pronounced, as women have been able to step out of poverty. The high return from cardamom farming has changed the livelihood trajectories of these women. Engagement in cash crop farming has empowered women financially and socially through their visible participation in savings and community groups. This study also opens up pathways for further studies on issues of sustainable cardamom farming and its impact on women’s livelihoods, particularly focusing on women and poverty. This study addresses that in developing or under-developed countries reliant on agriculture, their economic development can be improved if women’s economic and social conditions are understood and facilitated through policies inline with sustainable cash crop farming.

Author Biography

Sony KC is a PhD Scholar, currently conducting her PhD research under the FATE project. She is based in Kathmandu University, Department of Development Studies, School of Arts Nepal.

Mr. Upreti is an Executive Director of Nepal Center for Contemporary Research (NCCR). He is the team leader of FATE project and a well-established senior researcher.

Mr. Subedi is a PhD Scholar at Kathmandu University, School of Education. He is currently a lead senior statistician at NCCR under FATE project.