Siddaramaiah writes to Suresh Prabhu on issues faced by pepper growers
(8 months ago)
Bengaluru (Karnataka) , November 2 : Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday wrote a letter to Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu regarding problems faced by pepper growers in Karnataka due to improper import of the ingredient.
Siddaramaiah requested for an urgent need to protect the interest of pepper growers and consumers.
He also stated few measures that should be taken up;
-Stringent measures to check the import of pepper from Sri Lanka needs to be taken up, so that the price of pepper grown in India gets stabilised.
-Regulation of imports should be such that only high quality pepper is allowed to be imported.
-Strict phyto-sanitary standards be employed to check the quality and ensure disease free pepper is imported.
-Every consignment needs to be tested for residues to ensure that the commodity is safe to consume.
-Only few specified ports having checking facilities be authorised to handle the import of black pepper.
It is suspected that most of the imported pepper might actually be the rejected consignments from elsewhere for high pesticide residues.
However, dumping of low density pepper into our country has resulted in the crash in farm gate price from Rs. 650 per kg to Rs. 700 per kg, prevailing couple of years ago, to Rs. 350-400 now.
This has caused distress to the pepper producers of the state, the letter read.
Pepper being imported from Vietnam through Sri Lanka is used not only for domestic consumption but also used to export from India to foreign countries.
Indian pepper enjoys the reputation of being of a superior quality; hence export of Vietnamese pepper from India would negatively impact Indian pepper's brand equity.
In South East Asia, vast areas of dense forest have been cleared to grow black pepper as a mono-crop.
The vines are exposed to the elements of nature, the plants are disease prone and growers resort to very high usage of chemical pesticides for the pest and disease control.
Duty free import of spices allowed from Sri Lanka under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement has resulted in the pepper produced cheaply in Vietnam finding its way into India via Sri Lanka.
This has led to dumping of low quality pepper into the domestic market.
This has affected not only the livelihood of pepper growers in Karnataka, but also has the potential of jeopardising their future.
Karnataka is the largest producer of pepper in India.
It is grown on an area of 33,500 hectare with an annual production of 14,500 tonnes.
In Karnataka, pepper is grown as an intercrop in Coffee and Areca plantations by trailing the vines on to the trees.
Our shade grown black pepper is of high quality and more importantly, it is eco friendly.
In Karnataka, pepper is predominantly grown in Western Ghats, where growers strive to keep the flora and fauna undisturbed.