Shrinking Share Forces Pepper Growers in South to Turn N-E - The New Indian Express

Shrinking Share Forces Pepper Growers in South to Turn N-E

Published: 01st March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 01st March 2014 01:26 AM

It seems the dependency on traditional areas for the production of pepper will shrink in the not too far away future. As the production from states like Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu shows a depreciating trend, non-traditional areas like North Eastern states and West Bengal are now being explored. The Spices Board is making all efforts along with other agriculture research institutes to produce pepper on areas which were hitherto unexploited. The production this year in India is estimated at 35,000 tonnes as against 45,000 tonnes projected at the International Pepper Community Session late last year.

The country has lost its prominence in pepper production and export due to short supply and stiff price competition from other producing countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Brazil.

In terms of total production, India ranks fourth globally after Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil. Countries like Malaysia and Sri Lanka are catching up.

“North Eastern states and West Bengal are found to have conducive agro-climatic conditions suitable for pepper. Tea, arecanut, coconut trees grown in the North Bengal region in Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Cooch Behar districts in West Bengal are used as standards for growing pepper. Pepper suits well as intercrop in arecanut, tea and coconut gardens.

The intrinsic quality of pepper grown in these areas is on par with or superior than the pepper grown in traditional states. The average yield of a matured plant is above one kg (dry) which is three times higher than the national average yield,” said Arun Kumar Sit, Senior Scientist with Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) Research Centre.

Spices Board joins hand with CPCRI to organise pepper workshops, participating in kissan meals to popularise and promote pepper planting in North Bengal. Panniyur-1 and Karimunda varieties are grown in these regions.

“The area under arecanut in North Bengal is about 3,000 hectares and tea is about 1,15,000 hectares. There are a lot of small farmers growing tea and arecanut in North Bengal and these areas have the potential for pepper planting. It is crucial at this time to find out non-traditional areas to grow spices in the country,” said Spices Board Chairman A Jayathilak.

The average price of pepper in January 2014 was - black pepper Rs 528.30/kg, white pepper Rs 682.88/kg.

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