Vietnam model of cultivating it as mono-crop mooted

Auction of black pepper grown in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari by the AP Forest Development Corporation has fetched Rs.2.66 crore.

High in demand all over the world, particularly in Western and European countries, black pepper is known as an important ingredient to enhance the taste quotient of several delicacies — be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian. It is also recognised for its medicinal value in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, diarrhoea, and respiratory ailments.

During the auctions conducted at a function hall in MVP Colony here on Friday in the presence of APFDC Vice-Chairman-cum-Managing Director Rajesh Mittal, the response from the bidders was very good.

“Auction of 36.24 tonne brought us revenue of Rs.2.66 crore this time, the highest ever so far,” APFDC General Manager A.N. Gurumurthy told The Hindu on Saturday. During last year, the corporation earned Rs.47.33 lakh by auctioning 15.36 tonne.

Pepper is grown at high altitude in several parts of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts as an inter-crop in coffee plantations. Tribal people involved in coffee plantations by the Coffee Board also produce pepper.

Pepper plants are creepers hanging from silver oak and other shade-giving trees in the coffee plantations of Anantagiri, Araku, and other valleys of the Eastern Ghats. They also attract several people interested in ecotourism.

While the APFDC is growing pepper in coffee plantations raised in 10,000 acres, the Coffee Board produces pepper as inter-crop in coffee taken up in 55,000 hectare. The APFDC and the Coffee Board have been getting awards at the highest level for raising fine flavour coffee, bringing international recognition to locally produced coffee.

Experts say that pepper potential in the lush-green jungles of the Eastern Ghats could be explored better by raising coffee in more area and promoting pepper under the shade of coffee plants.

Some moot that pepper production could be raised by following the Vietnam model of cultivating it as a mono-crop in large stretches of high-altitude hilly terrains by planting it on wooden poles or concrete pillars without disturbing the eco-system. Vietnam is one of the leading pepper exporters.

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