Rejuvenating the pepper production in the district, the Central Commerce Ministry will implement a five year project through the Spices Board in the district, M.I. Shanavas MP told media persons here on Monday. The project envisages the rejuvenation and planting of new saplings in the conventional pepper producing areas to increase pepper production in the district considerably, he added.
Apart from Wayanad of Kerala, the project will be implemented in the Northern States such as Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur. The project envisages to spread pepper cultivation in 22,500 hectares of land. The Central ministry will provide Rs. 53.28 crore as subsidy for the project and Wayanad will get as much as Rs. 47.68 crore as subsidy, Mr. Shanavas added. Of the 25,000 hectares planning to implement the project, 20,000 hectares are in Wayanad district.
The production of pepper has declined considerably in the country owing to climatic changes and various diseases that affected the pepper vines in recent years. The total production of pepper in the country in the 2001 -02 financial year was 80,000 tonnes against 50,000 in 2005-06. In the total production of pepper 80 to 90 per cent is contributed by the State. The pepper is mainly grown in Idukki and Wayanad districts. Owing to the drastic decline in the pepper production, the lands which were utilised for pepper cultivation also shrank considerably. Pepper cultivation had been spread in 44,908 hectares of land in the 2001-02 period in the State and annual production was 17,915 tonnes against 36,488 hectares and 9,828 respectively in 2005-06 period. According to the latest reports, the land utilised for pepper cultivation shrank to 25,000 hectares and the production came down to 5,000 tonnes per year. As per the project, as many as 216 lakh new pepper vine saplings, including the conventional pepper species and hybrid species will be planted. As many as 540 pepper vine saplings can be planted in each hectare at a cost of Rs. 30, 000 and half the cost will be availed as subsidy.
As a part of the project, pest control management units and vermin compost units will also be set up. As much as Rs.1 crore will be spent on the training of farmers for pest management. An expert team consisting of 35 members of the Spices Board will supervise the project .The project aimed to increase the pepper production from 565 gram to 1,380 gram per vine.