Daijiworld Media Network- Mangaluru (SJM)
Madikeri, Aug 24: Owing to better price for black pepper, thousands of farmers started cultivating it. But lack of rainfall in many districts has affected the pepper yield this year. Few of the growers are using sprinklers and irrigating their estates to save the pepper catkins.
Karnataka is the leading producer of pepper. It is grown in several parts of Karnataka including Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu. Pepper is cultivated on over a lakh hectare of land in coffee estates across the district. In 2021, there was low pepper production due to erratic climate with strong winds and heavy rains in the Malnad regions. But the very next year, the demand for pepper gradually increased in the market.
Pepper is an intern crop that grows with the coffee and areca nut. It is also a self-pollinating plant. That means, even a single flower or plant can set fruit by itself. It does not depend on any other plant for pollination. Over the years, several varieties of black pepper were grown in Kodagu with an intention to increase the productivity per hectare.
When it comes to the climatic conditions of pepper, it is very selective. These are grown in tropical weather. A moderate temperature of 20 to 30 degrees is well suited for growing pepper. But in other weather conditions, even though the pepper is grown, the maintenance and caring expenses of the plant will be too high.
The secretary of Karnataka Growers Federation, Vishwanath K K explained, “The growers usually irrigate the pepper vines in the month of April and May, and the flowering of pepper vines takes place in June. The pollination process takes place in post June. But this year, due to lack of rainfall, the growers are utilising sprinklers and other irrigating techniques to save the pepper spikes.”
“The process of pollination takes place in the post June. In case the pepper catkins do not undergo pollination during the time, then the entire catkin will change to yellow and drop down. Some farmers have opted for sprinklers to save the catkins, but that is not a viable option,” said Subbaiah, a grower in Madikeri.
Scientist of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Dr Anke Gowda said, “As there is decrease in the rainfall this year, pepper vines are likely to take a hit. But due to dry spell in the month of August, there would also be an adverse effect in pepper flowering. As rainfall in the month of July has resulted in some pollination in the catkins, there will not be a complete drop in the productivity. But the production would be affected to some extent.”