BHUBANESWAR: The southern districts of Koraput, Kandhamal, Raygada and Gajapati are set to turn spice country as the Government has moved to promote large scale cultivation of high value spices like black pepper and cardamom in the State.
The Horticulture Department is planning to introduce spice cultivation in the highlands of Eastern Ghat region under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). A proposal for promotion of black pepper farming in the selected districts has been submitted to the Centre.
The Rs 1.92-crore plan envisages bringing in around 300 hectares (ha) of land under black pepper plantation on experimental basis to assess the production potential and output in Koraput, Kandhamal and Gajapati districts.
“In the initial phase, cultivation would be undertaken on patches along the highlands for demonstration purposes. The farmers and entrepreneurs would be educated and encouraged to adopt high value spice cultivation. We are hopeful of availing the funds soon and plantation of crops could start by July,” Director, Horticulture Sushant Nanda said.
Black pepper is already being grown, though on a small scale, as a companion crop to coffee in Koraput and has been established to be of high quality. The State has huge potential for expanding cultivation of black pepper and other high value spices like cardamom. Around five lakh ha land, including 3.5 lakh ha in Koraput and Raygada districts, can be brought into the fold of spice cultivation, Odisha Coffee Growers’ Association (OCGA) has stated.
OCGA is pressing the State Government for promoting spice cultivation as well as persuading expert agencies like Spice Board of Kerala, Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development, Indian Institute of Spices Research and Indian Cardamom Research Institute, all based in Kerala, to explore possibilities of tapping the huge potential and lay a roadmap for spice development in Odisha. Kerala is the spice capital of India.
“There is a possibility of making a mini-Kerala here. Alongside coverage in black pepper, there is a host of other high value spice crops that can be introduced in the State for commercial exploitation. A comprehensive spice development programme for the region will go a long way in transforming the region into a vibrant spices destination,” secretary, OCGA LP Deo stated in a memorandum to the Government.