Global recognition for a Kerala farmer

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Global recognition has come to India’s pepper growers in the form of the International Pepper Community Award for Jomy Mathew, a native of Pothanikkad, near Kothamangalam. The prize was awarded on Saturday.

On the sidelines of the awards ceremony, hosted by the Spice Council, Mathew said there was huge potential for various spice crops in the country, including pepper, which had suffered a setback in the recent past.

Mr Mathew said he farms around 100 acres at Shimoga in Karnataka, where pepper, rubber, areca nut and coffee are the main crops. He said IPC recognition came through high productivity.

While pepper productivity averaged 450 kg per ha in India, it had reached seven tons. The productivity rate in Kerala was still below 250 kg per ha, he added. However, he said the high productivity had been achieved in a particular plot of land and pointed out that Vietnamese farmers were able to produce around two tons per ha.

The IPC, established in 1972 under the aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), is an intergovernmental organization of pepper producing countries which includes India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam as permanent members and Papua New Guinea and the Philippines as associate members.

Mr Mathew said he was proud to be the first Indian farmer to be so recognized by the IPC, even though Kerala was considered the premier source of pepper, for which there had been great historical records.

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