TIRUVANNAMALAI: A group of farmers in Jawadhu Hills in Tiruvannamalai district. who introduced pepper plantation on a ‘trial and error’ basis to the region, have inspired the district administration to promote the cultivation of the king of spices across the hills. The district administration has planned to expand pepper plantation on 200 acres of land by providing subsidy and technical support to more farmers.`
About 20 farmers of Thathankuppam and neighbouring villages of the Nammiyapattu panchayat in Jawadhu had taken up pepper cultivation six to seven years ago. The farmers, who had earlier worked as labourers in pepper plantations in Kerala and Karnataka, decided to introduce the plant on their farms out of curiosity and succeeded in the attempt.
For farmers in Jawadhu Hills, this could be good news as they are depending on rain-fed agriculture for a livelihood. As a result, they take up agriculture for six months in a year, and go on to work as labourers in neighbouring states for the rest of the year.
Rajesh, who is in his mid-thirties, was one of the farmers who tasted success from introducing pepper plantation to the soil in Jawadhu Hills. He planted five saplings nearly five summers ago, and has harvested pepper twice. He brought the plant home from a pepper plantation of Chikmangalur in Karnataka, where he worked.
“One plant gave enormous yield, nearly 10kg of pepper twice. Other plants also fetched 6kg to 7kg each. I harvested pepper once in six months and sold the produce for Rs 500 per kg. I am happy with the yield,” he said.
Like him, C Vellaiyan took up pepper plantation three years ago. “My son is working in a plantation in Kerala and brought home some plants. We cultivated them and I am looking forward to a good yield from this year. I also have plans to expand the plantation,” he said.
On inspecting the scattered pepper plantation recently, collector K S Kandasamy said they would encourage farmers to take up the sub-tropical plantation that gives yield for a minimum of 30 years.