|‘King of spices has immense scope for commercialisation’|
GUWAHATI, Nov 5 - Promotion of black pepper sector can play a significant role in augmenting the income levels of small and marginal farmers in the State while contributing to the larger vision of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.
State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said this while inaugurating a four-day stakeholder workshop on the ‘Promotion of Good Agricultural Practices and Post Harvest Technology in Black Pepper and Turmeric for Enhancing Farm Income’ at the Horticultural Research Station at Kahikuchi here today.
He remarked that black pepper, which is referred to as the king of spices, has immense scope for commercialisation as several premium value-added products can be derived from it and exhorted the farmers to exploit the economic advantages offered by it.
He emphasised the need for the establishment of accredited community nursery at the panchayat level, organisation of farmers into producer groups, capacity building of farmers, facilitating primary processing at the village level as well as the efficient management of the black pepper value chain.
He said India is the largest producer of turmeric in the world and it has immense scope for entrepreneurship development because of its demand in different sectors.
He laid special emphasis on the availability of quality planting materials, post-harvest mechanisation, organic production and establishing market linkages to promote turmeric in Assam.
Earlier in his welcome address, Dr Sarat Saikia, chief scientist at the Horticultural Research Station, Kahikuchi, remarked that farmers of Assam have a traditionally long-standing relationship with black pepper and turmeric.
However, despite having a suitable agro-climatic situation in the State, farmers have not been able to leverage black pepper and turmeric commercially.
He opined that in the present era of globalisation, agriculture has to be pursued from a distinct perspective wherein quality, quantity, market intelligence and technology play a crucial role and stressed the need for organising farmers into farmer producer organisations to enhance their bargaining and negotiation powers while facilitating technology percolation to the village level.
Dr Pranab Kr Mahanta, director of Horticulture & Food Processing, called upon the farmers to take advantage of various government schemes including crop insurance and observed that it is high time for the farmers to adopt precision farming technologies to boost their income levels.
The workshop is being organised by the Horticultural Research Station, Kahikuchi, in collaboration with the Kozhikode-based Indian Institute of Spices Research.
Besides farmers from spice growing pockets of Kamrup and Goalpara districts, the workshop is being attended by representatives from the Spices Board of Government of India, Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited, Sigma industries and NGOs, besides scientists from the Indian Institute of Spices Research and Assam Agricultural University.
An exhibition on black pepper varieties was also organised on the sidelines of the workshop.