Kerala pepper output likely to fall this year

Kerala pepper output likely to fall this year

Kochi: Heavy pre-monsoon showers and a lethal attack by wasps may hit pepper production in Kerala, the main producer of the commodity in India. The industry estimates that production in fiscal 2009 would be 40,000-45,000 tonnes compared with the 50,000 tonnes produced last year.

Initial indications from the ongoing survey of the crop in Idukki district point to a lower output there owing to the very heavy pre-monsoon showers, said M. Tamilselvam, director of the Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development.

In Wayanad, the other major pepper-growing district in Kerala, pepper vines have withered away after the poles on which they climb were damaged by wasps.

However, Karnataka may partially compensate for the decline. The state is expected to produce 10,000 tonnes more of pepper this year, taking its total output to 30,000 tonnes.

The annual domestic consumption of pepper is between 50,000-55,000 tonnes, according to the Spices Board of India.