Who has not heard of Pepper Spray? Especially, after its infamous use in Parliament during a discussion on the formation of Telangana State!
Now hold your breath. The essential component of this pepper spray is a compound called Oleoresin, which is extracted from Teja variety of chilli that is grown in Khammam extensively. So popular is the Teja variety for its by-products that a Chinese company set up its unit in Mudigonda mandal for extraction of Oleoresin and export it to its clients all over the world.
Endowed with suitable agro-climatic conditions, vast stretches of black soil and fertile lands along the banks of the Godavari, Khammam district is now billed as one of the leading producers of chilli along with Warangal. The Teja variety, noticeable for its striking red colour and pungency, is widely grown in the district. One of its by-products - Oleoresin used in Pepper Sprays contains a natural substance called “capsaicin” which is known for its medicinal value. It has wider applications as a natural colouring and flavouring agent in confectionery, beverages, pharmaceutical and other industries. The chilli produce is being exported to several south Asian countries by some district-based traders.
Chilli growers are prone to vagaries of nature and fluctuations in the prices of the chilli produce in the market, points out all-India Kisan Sabha vice-president S. Malla Reddy. The government should provide minimum support price to the chilli produce, extend technical knowhow, create storage facilities and enable chilli farmers to explore the enormous marketing avenues, he suggests.