Black pepper production in India
Nonetheless, India still stands as the largest consumer and producer among the pepper producing countries at 74,000 MT annually. In fact, three of the biggest black pepper producing states in India are Kerela, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
According to a 2020 report by Statista, Karnataka has emerged to be the biggest producer of black pepper in India.
Also referred to as the ‘land of spices’, India is home to a number of spices and black pepper happens to be one of its most prized possession. One of the reasons why black pepper farming in India is thriving is because of the ideal weather conditions
From the above table, Vietnam alone contributes to almost half of the global pepper production and the production is growing at a rate of 30% annually.
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In terms of export, Vietnam leads the market globally. USA, UK and Canada continue to be the largest importers of black pepper. Thus, with a market share of approximately 50%, Vietnam has been able to dominate the global market.
The pepper cultivated area in India is declining at a rate of 25% annually. States from Northeast India are doing fairly well in adopting pepper production in most if not all of the hilly terrains of the regions.
In 2015, Kerala dominated the pepper production in India with an astounding 20,000 MT of black pepper from 84,065 hectares of cultivated area. In the same year, Meghalaya produced 681 MT of black pepper from 967 hectares. This amounts to 0.7 MT/ha as compared to Kerala’s 0.2 MT/ha.
Scope for NortheastPepper grows well in tropical areas and can grow at temperatures between 10°C to 40°C. It grows best on well-drained nutrient rich soil but can even grow in clay, red and sandy loams. The recommended spacing for planting black pepper is 3.0 x 3.0 metres for flat land which can accommodate 1,100 plants per hectare.
The spacing can be reduced in the case of slopes, to 3.0 x 2.0 metres which can then accommodate 1,400 plants per hectare. Since most of the Northeast India farmers farm in the hilly terrains, the farmers can reduce the spacing between each plant, hence increasing production.
The three major producers of black pepper in the Northeast are listed below:
In 2014, Nagaland also started pepper cultivation but the yield till date is negligible. Other Northeastern states are yet to adopt black pepper in their agricultural cycle.
Zizira sources its black pepper directly from family farms in Ri-Bhoi District of Meghalaya. Black pepper is used as an ingredient in many of our blends.
Factors Affecting Pepper Production
- Low yield varieties
- Soil fertility depletion
- Unexpected climate change
- Unproductive vines resulting from low maintenance
What to Expect From Black Pepper Farming?Black pepper could be the farmers’ savior when cultivated along with other commercial crops such as coffee, areca-nut etc. With the already available market, black pepper could live up to its name as “black gold” and provide a profitable living for the farmers of Northeast India.
The Spices Board India has already taken the initiative to provide pepper threshing equipment for separating the berries from spikes to marginal farmers, women farmers and beneficiaries in Northeast India states. These threshers have the capacity to thresh 300 kg per hour.
The spices board will bear up to 50 % cost of the equipment to a maximum of ₹150,001 as a subsidy. There is no scarcity of governmental schemes for the farmers, and now all we need is to educate the farmers on the availability of such schemes and subsidies. Do you think black pepper cultivation will benefit the farmers?