Kalpetta farmer finds solution to wilt diseases

Sometimes, intuitive farmers find solutions from the ground up to crop diseases faster than scientists.

Take the case of quick wilt and slow wilt of black pepper.

Agriculture scientists are still at work to find a proper remedy to the two diseases affecting the crop in the State. But a progressive farmer here has hit on a solution.

Visit the pepper garden of Mattil Alavi here. His pepper vines are healthy and strong. He has been applying an innovative grafting technique on bush and vine pepper on his 40 cents of land for 11 years.

At a farmers’ meeting in Bangalore recently, Mr. Alavi won right recognition. The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore, selected him as one of the best farmers in the country for standardising the innovative technology and spreading the technique among other farmers in Wayanad.

When pepper vines withered in bulk in the district because of quick wilt, a friend of Mr. Alavi’s told him about the Piper colubrinum plant (Kattu Thippally in Malayalam) that resists quick and slow wilt. He then used the shrub as root stock to graft pepper vines, he says.

His success in grafting tomato and brinjal on the root stock of Solanum indicaum (Puthari chunda) helped him develop the technology.

During a visit to a horticulture exhibition in Kozhikode in 2002, he met B. Sasikumar, Principal Scientist, Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode, who encouraged the farmer to standardise the technology.

The grafted plant can come up in any type of soil, even if waterlogged, he says. The crop is protected from soil-borne diseases such as quick wilt and slow wilt and they have high vigour and give good yield, he adds.

The bush pepper, suitable to cultivate in pots, produces black gold round the year. A four-year-old plant can give a yield of 4 kg a year, Mr. Alavi says.

“I have passed on the technology to hundreds of farmers, students and agriculture scientists who have visited my farm and gave saplings of Piper colubrinum to them free,” he says.

Grafting is 100 per cent successful in the case of bush pepper plants, he says. The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here has selected Mr. Alavi to multiply nearly 20 of its traditional pepper germplasm collection.

Farmers may call him on 9645 339156

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