Pepper is grown as an intercrop by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Development Corporation (APFDC) along with coffee in 4,010 hectares and producing 19 tonnes per year.
Government agencies working in the agency areas among the tribal communities which are in coffee production in the district are being encouraged to grow black pepper as an inter-crop and make more lives spicy in the world, as pepper is in huge demand globally and particularly in the western and European countries.
An estimated 150 tonnes of black pepper is being produced by the tribal farmers working under various government and private agencies but the potential for pepper production is a whopping 5,000 tonnes from the district alone. The country’s annual production is 50,000 tonnes. India at one time stood on top in pepper production but now Vietnam wrested the position from it.
Pepper is grown as an intercrop by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Development Corporation (APFDC) along with coffee in 4,010 hectares and producing 19 tonnes per year. Coffee Board which has tribal farmers producing coffee in 55,000 hectares are also producing something like 50 tonnes of pepper annually. Under the ITDA and NREGS coffee plantations pepper is also produced to an extent of 50 tonnes. Altogether pepper is being grown in 1.24 lakh acres of tribal holdings and an approximate 150 tonnes of pepper production. 1 tonne of pepper costs Rs.3.5 lakh. Pepper growers in the district are supplying pepper to the Pepper Board of India and doing a business of around Rs.5.25 crore annually.
APFDC general manager A.N. Guru Murthy told The Hindu that the potential for boosting pepper production is huge and according to estimates 5,00 tonnes can be produced every year from the district if the coffee producing tribal community is properly motivated.
Pepper is an important ingredient in non-vegetarian food products as well as in some vegetarian food products. It is in great demand in India as well as in almost all the countries globally. It is a sensitive crop and cannot tolerate climatic and moisture stress. Water stress would result in dropping of spikes of the pepper plant which experiences pollination through moisture.
Black pepper or otherwise called piper nigrum is native to India and other South East Asian countries. Black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, pink pepper and red pepper are all differently preserved berries or seeds of the piper nigrum plant.
Processing of white pepper is a difficult proposition but it is in demand in the western countries and costs five times more than black pepper.
Although black pepper has been used as spice for millennia, it has also been traditionally used in India to treat diarrhoea. Recent laboratory studies indicate that black pepper may also be beneficial in pain and Alzheimer’s disease. Inhalation of black pepper might cause respiratory irritation and endemic and even respiratory arrest, severe anoxia and even death.