Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI: The Union government has approved a Rs.240-crore scheme for undertaking a re-plantation programme for pepper growers in Idukki district of Kerala, a step aimed at enhancing productivity of pepper that has been facing stiff competition from Sri Lanka and Vietnam during the last few years.

Disclosing this here on Friday, former Union Commerce Minister Jairam Ramesh told newsmen that it would be for the first time that a re-plantation programme had been approved for pepper growers and the Union government would contribute Rs.120 crore for this major rejuvenation project and another Rs.120 crore would be contributed by the farmers. He said the project would cover nearly 65,000 hectares of land in Idukki district.

Mr. Jairam said Kerala accounted for 84 per cent of pepper production in the country and Idukki district alone contributed nearly 46 per cent of that.