Survey forecasts 10% dip in pepper output

Written by Commodities Bureau | Kochi | Updated: Dec 2 2008, 06:56am hrs
The crop survey conducted by the directorate of cocoa, arecanut and spices development (DASD) has forecast that the output of pepper during 2008-09 would fall by 10% over the previous year due to erratic weather conditions and disease. The Kozhikode-based agency conducts an annual survey of pepper plantations in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with the sampling method and direct interviews of farmers and traders.

The combined output in the three states is likely to touch 51,000 tonne in 2008-09 as against 57,000 tonne in 2007-08, M Thamizh Selvan, director, DASD told FE. Output is expected to fall by 21% in Kerala over the previous year due to unusual early rains and a plant disease, he said.

In 2007-08, the agency had estimated an output of 31,300 tonne and for 2008-09, the output has forecasted at 24,785 tonne. An attack of gall wasps devastated plantations in Wayanad district. Pepper vines have been destroyed in many regions, he added. Atypical rains in March saw the emergence of early increase in the growth of pepper vines, which later succumbed to the dry spell in June and July, he said. An erratic monsoon also affected output in both Idukki and Wayanad districts.

The steady increase in output from Karnataka has been the redeeming feature. Pepper in Karnataka is grown mainly in irrigated coffee plantations and is seen to be less sensitive to the monsoon . Output is expected to increase by 38% over the previous year in Karnataka . Output during 2008-09 has been forecast to be around 20,200 tonne as against 14,600 tonne in 2007-08, Thamizh Selvan said.

Output is likely to drop by 45% in Tamil Nadu to touch 6,000 tonne in 2008-09. In 2007-08, the state had a bumper crop of 11,000 tonne.