Coffee, pepper cultivation on in Jawadu Hills

The drive is aimed at providing additional income to tribals and prevent migration

Seed beds of coffee, pepper prepared in Kovilur

New crops will be raised only on unutilised portions of land

Tiruvannamalai: Coffee plants and pepper vines are being cultivated in Jawadu hills, the hill known for conventional crops such as ‘samai’ (small millet).

With an aim to provide additional income to the tribal people of this hill and thereby check their migration to the plains seeking employment, a couple of NGOs working in the hill have devised a plan to introduce spices, fruits and coffee to the hills, in coordination with the State Horticulture Department.

Jawadu Tribal Women Development Society, in coordination with the department, has prepared seed beds of coffee and pepper in Kovilur. “About 20 kg of coffee seeds brought from Yercaud have been sowed in the seedbed. It will produce about 50,000 seedlings, which can be transplanted on about 50 acres of land. Likewise, about one lakh pepper cuttings were planted in a seedling bed, which can be replanted on about 100 acres of land,” J. Karunakaran, Horticulture Officer, Tiruvannamalai, told The Hindu.

Both coffee and pepper seedlings prepared in these beds would be ready for plantation in about six months, he said. “As these crops are new to Jawadu Hills, a 10-day training programme is being hosted with the help of NABARD, starting from January 18. Methods of nursery rising and cultivation of these crops are being taught to 30 tribal women.

These crops which require shades will be planted under trees on the lands of the tribals. The new crops will not disturb their conventional crops such as ‘samai’ or paddy. Coffee and pepper crops will be raised only on unutilised portions of land. So, it is likely to give the tribals additional income. “The climate here is also very conducive to such crops,” Mr. Karunakaran said.

“Saplings of eight varieties of fruits and spices, all new to the hills, including Surinam cherry, Rambutan, litchi, Duriyan, nutmeg (Jathi), cinnamon, clove and garcinia have also been distributed to various tribal villages. About 3,300 saplings of these varieties brought from Kallar State Farm were distributed to the tribal people from Aattiyanur, Nachamalai, Nallapattu, Mel Athipattu, etc.,” Mr. Karunakaran said.

Senthil, president of Jawadu People Development Society, another NGO involved in the drive, told The Hindu that people from the plains started purchasing lands in the hill while tribals of the hill move to the plains seeking employment. “We hope these crops keep a check on the trend,” he said.

A.D. Balasubramaniyan From THE HINDU

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