'Kodagu to get a pepper processing unit soon'

Karnataka State Spices Board chairperson Shashikala V Kavali has said that a black pepper processing unit will be sanctioned to the district. She was interacting with coffee planters of Kodagu on Saturday. The chairperson said that the unit was a long-pending demand from the region. “Already, a chilly processing unit has been provided to Haveri, a pepper unit to Sirsi, a turmeric unit to Chamarajanagar and a tamarind unit to Kolar. There is a demand to set up a pepper processing unit at Sakleshpur and Kodagu. Once the proposal reaches the Board, the demand will be fulfilled,” she assured.

Stating that the new Board members took charge four months ago, she said that the schemes of the Board could not reach the farmers since 2013. The government has set aside Rs 3 crore in the budget for the Board and the chief minister has promised to release additional funds, if the fund is utilised effectively. “The Board is making arrangement for online marketing of farmers produce. It can organise video conferences in five divisions to listen to the woes of the growers. In addition, a sum of Rs 20,000 will be given for holding farmers convention. Chillies were cultivated in a few pockets of North Karnataka till recently. However, owing to the decline in the fertility of the soil, the chillies could not be cultivated there. Instead, maize is being cultivated there. The Board has decided to take up soil testing in such places,” she explained.

The coffee planters demanded setting up of a pepper park in Kodagu. Although a large quantity of pepper is cultivated in the district, the neighbouring Kerala state is ahead of Kodagu. There is a demand for hike in the supply of copper sulphate to farmers by the Board. The planters urged the scientists to visit the coffee estates and provide solutions to the diseases affecting pepper veins. The support price for pepper cultivation should be introduced in Karnataka on the model of Kerala. They also urged to provide financial assistance from the state government for sprinklers and drip irrigation facilities.

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