1. Commodity News

Pepper App for Farmers in India may be a Guide for Best Cultivation Practices

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

A Bollywood song that `Tujh ko Mirchi Lagi to...` may be appropriate at this moment. The Black Pepper is the King of Spice and used worldwide as spice.

Over 75 cultivars of pepper are being cultivated in India. Karimunda is the most popular of all the established cultivars of pepper among the growers of Kerala. The other important cultivars are Kottanadan, Narayakkodi, Aimpiriyan, Neelamundi, Kuthiravally, Balancotta, Kalluvally, Malligesara and Uddagare.

 Pepper can be grown in a wide range of soils such as clay loam, red loam, sandy loam and lateritic soils with a pH of 4.5 to 6.0, though in its natural habitat, it thrives best on virgin soil rich in organic matter.

 Pepper is a humid tropic plant, which requires adequate rainfall and humidity. The hot and humid climate of submountanous tracts of Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats is ideal for its growth.

It grows successfully between 20o north and south latitude and from sea level upto 1500 meters above MSL. The temperature ranges between 10o and 40oC. A well-distributed annual rainfall of 125-200 cm is considered ideal for pepper.

A drastic fall in the price of black pepper price, coupled with low production owing to climate vagaries, has put farmers in Kerala and Karnataka – the two major pepper producing States in the country – in distress.

The spot prices of pepper in Kerala’s Wayanad and Karnataka’s Coorg markets recently  was ₹360 a kg and ₹350 a kg respectively as against ₹570 and ₹580 a kg respectively last year. 

All India Spices Export Forum (AISEF), Chairman Shri  Prakash Namboodri, signed recently an MOU with the International Pepper Community to overcome the problem of getting less amount from their Indian produce and the import is cheaper from other countries. Jakarta, Indonesia based IPC has launched the App for the benefit of the International Growers of the spice Pepper.

The App, which is an IPC initiative to help Farmers have more facilities to improve and develop pepper industry in Indonesia. However implementation in various member countries is possible only through efficient local implementation partners. Thus, in Indonesia it is a close-collaborative work between the IPC and Balittro and other relevant agencies. Balittro has taken the responsibility to provide the scientific and technical support. The business and private sector in Indonesia has also supported the IPC Farmers App and agreed to contribute and take care of the implementation and maintenance costs for the App over the years. This is great effort and jointly mobilized through cooperation and partnership between the government and private sector in Indonesia and also could be a good implementation model for other member countries as well

The App will make it easy for farmers to identify the pest or disease that is affecting his field and take control measures accordingly. Any changes in recommendation or technology are updated real time onto the farmers' mobile phone. Without any outside assistance, the farmer will be able to adopt the best practices for his farm. However, as a farmer wishes to, the App will let him interactively consult with pepper expert from respective organization within their countries.

Furthermore, by utilizing the IPC Farmers App, farmers would be able to monitor the updated news on market. Farmer will get to see long term price trends in pepper markets around the world. Objective of providing this information to the farmer is to enable him to take the right decision in terms of increasing his area of cultivation or holding stock in anticipation of a better price. The App gives the Power of Information at his fingertips.

A market linkage feature in the App enables the farmer to market their products by submitting their expected price through the App. The price thus submitted will be seen by thousands of people in the pepper industry. This significantly increases the possibility of a faster sale and also a higher price for his produce.

Other Key features are that this App is equipped with Geo-Location thus personalizing the app to the farmer's location, will be available in all local languages, will work even when there is no internet, App available on Android phones and iPhones (version for iPhone will be released during August), etc..

In this regard, an agreement was reached upon that the Government of Kepulauan Bangka Belitung Province will host and organize the Launching Ceremony of the IPC Farmers App on 19th July 2018 in Bangka. The Launching Ceremony of the IPC Farmers App, which will be honored and officiated by the Governor of Kepulauan Bangka Belitung Province, Mr. Erzaldi Rosman, SE, MM, is to introduce the App to Farmers in Kepulauan Bangka Belitung Province. Farmers are to receive training about the App given by Balittro and also the App developer of the IPC in the Launching Ceremony. A presentation will be given by Balittro to provide and update farmers on good cultivation in pepper as well.

After the initial launch in Indonesia, the App will be launched in India. All preparatory work to launch the App in India is progressing fast. It is targeted to launch the App in India during early August. In India, All Indian Spice Exporters Forum (AISEF) was selected as the implementation partner for the IPC Farmers App in India subsequent to their Expression of Interest against the notification published at IPC's website and newsletters. This is a great achievement and will further enhance the IPC and AISEF cooperation and partnership.

AISEF has been working closely with spice farmers to educate them on the best cultivation practices with the objective of improving their profitability and also the quality of their produce. Over the years, AISEF has implemented many projects and invested significant resources at the farm level. The IPC is not only acknowledging the crucial supporting role of AISEF in the IPC's projects, but is also grateful to AISEF for being a strategic partner and for the long term commitment of resources such as manpower and financial support in the implementation of the App in India.

We are confident that these projects will be a great success and will bring significant benefits to farmers of Indonesia and India.

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