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Updated: May 7, 2010 01:48 IST

Reaping the fruits of hard labour

K. S. Sudhi
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Five tribal leaders of the eco-development committees of Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, will reach Kochi from their hamlets on Saturday.

A. Kannan, V. Satheesh, S. Panchan, D. Raju and C. Nayan are coming to Kochi to reap the fruits of hard labour their tribesmen have put in. The five-member team will receive a cheque from Forest Minister Benoy Viswom for the organic pepper their tribesmen have grown in the colonies of Mannakudi, Paliyakudi and Vanchivayal of Thekkady.

Last year, the tribals of Vanchivayal harvested 13,006 kg of green pepper, which was cleaned and dried for export. After the drying and processing, 4,450 kg of pepper was exported. The organic export consignment earned the tribals Rs. 9.56 lakh. Eco Land Herbs and Spices, Hamburg, Germany, purchased the pepper.

The Periyar Foundation functioning under the Periyar Tiger Reserve coordinated the activities including the collection and obtaining the export licence for pepper marketing. While collecting the green pepper, the foundation gives the tribals 33 per cent extra of the market rate.

It was in 2008 that the first export consignment was sent from Vanchivayal tribal colony. During that time, 14,361 kg of pepper was collected and 3,825 kg was exported.

Last year, bad weather rendered a portion of the pepper consignment unfit for export as moisture was detected in 371 kg of pepper. As there was not sufficient sunshine, the pepper was dried using driers. The pepper meant for export has been collected and stocked by the Forest department. Steps will be taken for auctioning this pepper, said Forest officials.

This year, 15,245 kg of green pepper was harvested from Vanchivayal and 1,813 kg from Mannakudy and Paliyakudi colonies. This consignment will also be exported soon, said the Deputy Director of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, East Division.

K.V. Thomas, Union Minister for State for Agriculture, will inaugurate the meeting to be held at Ernakulam Government Guest House, at 4 p.m. in this regard.

Dominic Presentation, MLA, will preside. Mayor Mercy Williams; E.S. Bijimol, MLA, Peerumedu; K.K. Srivasthava, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden; and Bennichan Thomas, Field Director, Project Tiger; will attend.

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