VISAKHAPATNAM: The tribal farmers of Araku Valley are all set to export pepper to Denmark, the first foreign country to receive this tribal produce from Araku.
Pepper is currently grown on an extent of about 98,000 acres in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam, majorly as an intercrop inside the coffee plantations in Araku, Ananthagiri, Chintapalli and Paderu. The coffee produced in these tribal pockets is already being exported to several European and other countries.
Speaking to STOI, assistant director (coffee), Integrated Tribal Development Agency-Paderu, V Radhakrishna said that pepper plantations in these tribal areas will produce an average of 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of dry pepper. “The ITDA would generally distribute 100 pepper plants per acre of coffee plantation. The pepper plants are grown as creepers on shade-giving trees in the coffee plantations such as silver oak, jackfruit, etc. In all, the coffee plantations are grown on about 1.58 lakh acres, producing nearly 11,000 metric tonnes of clean coffee. Under the direction of our ITDA project officer (PO) Venkateswar Salijamala, we want to take up more initiatives in the future,” said Radhakrishna.
Manoj Kumar, CEO of the Naandi foundation, which trains and handholds Araku tribal farmers in land productivity, organic farming protocols, crop and pest management and market connections, tweeted about the order for 23 metric tonnes of pepper from Denmark, stating this “will herald Araku becoming globally acclaimed for pepper too”.
Manoj Kumar’s tweet, noted industrialist Anand Mahindra tweeted; “Araku Valley is fast becoming one of the world’s best labs for a new, sustainable, value-added form of agriculture & a new community-based lifestyle. Watch this space. Araku could be the new Shangri-La. (sic),”
ITDA assistant director Radhakrishna said the agency has taken up a pilot project in Chintapalli, namely the Chintapalli Tribal Organic Coffee, to make tribal farmers self-sustainable in terms of coffee processing and establishing better market linkages. “The ITDA established the infrastructure with about Rs 1.5 crore for this project in Chintapalli. About 10,000 farmers have been formed into small groups in Chintapalli for this project. Several corporate companies are vying for Araku coffee due to its quality,” said Radhakrishna.