Farmer wins award for conservation of native pepper crop

A progressive farmer, Napanda Poonacha of Kodagu district shall be known as a pro-nature farmer soon. He has been diligently working towards identifying commercial crops that have little or negligible bad impact on biodiversity.

He was recently awarded the Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Reward (2019-20) for his contribution towards the conservation of indigenous crops of ‘Adi Pepper’.

The award has been given by the Union Agriculture Ministry’s Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority and Napanda Poonacha received the award from union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar at a ceremony on November 11 in New Delhi.

“This award has been granted to farmers who recognize, conserve and promote crops that are useful to biodiversity. Similarly, I won the award for my research, conservation and promotion of ‘Adi Pepper’ – an indigenous variety of pepper that is extensively found growing across natural habitat of Garvale village limits in Kodagu,” explained Poonacha.

He is the proprietor of Adi Pepper Demo Farm and Research Center in Garvale and is majorly involved in identifying native crops in the district that have good potential of becoming a commercial crop without causing damage to the ecosystem.

“Adi Pepper crops are extensively found in the natural habitat across the Garvale area. At the research center, we took the initiative of getting this species of pepper registered under PPFRI and this quality pepper was recognized as farmer’s variety pepper in 2015. This is the only species of pepper that has undergone biochemical analysis and is considered the best among the seven species of pepper that are grown across Kodagu,” he detailed.

Although, this variety of pepper was locally known as forest pepper and was used only for domestic purposes by the locals, it has now attained a brand value of Rs 3500 per kilo – earning over six times more returns than the other species of black pepper marketed in the district.

“Adi pepper is a native crop and has no harmful impact on biodiversity. This is high-quality pepper and its processing is different from the other species. The ripening of the pepper seeds takes place in November and it is harvested during the same month. However, the pepper seeds are handpicked, treated with hot water and then dried and processed. This ensures top quality of the pepper, earning high returns,” he explained.

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