Progressive farmers of Kerala are adopting the Vietnam model for growing pepper.
The pepper heartland of Wayanad in Kerala is expecting a surge in its pepper productivity, thanks to the Vietnam model- exclusive monocrop.
Pepper Vines. Image for representation only. Source: Facebook
The Vietnam model sees the crop planted in high density using concrete poles to support the pepper vines.
According to a report by The Times of India, farmer Ayoob Thottoli from Edavaka in Mananthavady is growing pepper in a section of his nine acre farm using this method. The report also quotes the assistant principal agriculture officer in Wayanad R Manikandan saying that many farmers in the area are eager to switch to this model and that some have already adopted it this season.
Wayanad has dominated pepper farming in the country for many years, producing more than 40,000 tonnes of the crop every year until the mid-1980s. However, since the past few years, the production of pepper has declined considerably owing to climatic changes and various diseases. The total production of pepper in the country in the 2005-06 was 50,000 tonnes against 80,000 in 2001 -02.
Vietnam, adopting this model, grows more than 1.20 lakh tonnes of pepper annually, whereas India grows a total of about 70,000 tonnes of pepper.
Ayoob’s pepper vines are growing with speed over 150 15-feet-high poles. While pepper is grown as an intercrop in plantations or homesteads, these farmers are growing it as a monocrop.
“Over the past 16 years, I followed the traditional intercropping method. The pepper yield was below a tonne/hectare and the plants were prone to disease and drought. We were hearing stories of farmers in Vietnam achieving a mindboggling productivity of 2.5 tonnes/acre. That made me think of cultivating pepper as a monocrop under which we can plant up to 1,000 saplings/acre at a spacing of 2X2m, as opposed to 400 plants using the intercropping method,” Ayoob told TOI.
With the new cultivation method, Ayoob is expecting a yield of 3 kg per pepper vine, which would translate to 2.5-3 tonnes from an acre, which is much higher than the state average. He has also taken to intensive cultivations practices like drip irrigation and organic fertilizers.
Monocropping can work well in areas with a cool climate. In areas with high heat and humidity, direct sunlight heating up the concrete poles could adversely affect vines. Thus the model can work in only certain areas with specific climate conditions, states the report.
Featured image credit: The Times of India