Horticulture Mission project for Wayanad and Idukki

The State Horticulture Mission will implement a comprehensive pepper rejuvenation package to restore the glory of pepper production in the State.

K. Prathapan, Mission Director, who is the convener of the core committee formed to implement the package, told The Hindu on Sunday that the five-year project would be take up in major pepper-producing districts such as Wayanad and Idukki from the financial year 2013-14 at a cost of Rs. 25 crore.

Quality vines

He said three-crore disease-free vines would be planted in the first phase, targeting a yield of 3,000 kg a hectare.

Soil health, pest and disease, nutrition and harvest would be managed holistically. Indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides affected soil health and thus diseases spread in pepper. Farmers would be advised good agriculture practices through awareness campaigns and training.

He said a governing body meeting of the mission, chaired by Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan, constituted the core committee to draw up a long-term strategy for the project.

The nine-member committee had scientists from Kerala Agriculture University, the Agriculture Department and the Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode.

Dr. Prathapan said the committee had a preliminary discussion at the Regional Research Station at Ambalavayal on Saturday and decided to launch a project to produce three-crore diseases-free saplings using tissue culture and conventional rooting technology. High-yielding indigenous varieties such as the Wayanadan, Kottanadan and Kaniayakkadan types would be promoted.

He said the planting materials would be produced on a decentralised nursery production plan by the partner institutions at the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, the university and the department.

The expenses for the project would be meet from the State Plan fund or Central sector fund.

In the second phase, the project would be extended to other districts.

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