Kerala tribals to directly export pepper to Germany

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Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 9 (UNI) In a rare first in the country, a group of tribal farmers in Kerala, with the support of the state government, will export organic pepper to Germany, State Forests Minister Binoy Viswom said today.

Informing this at a press conference here, he said, the first consignment of four tonnes of pepper cultivated by three tribal communities at Vanchivayil village in the interiors of Thekkady forests would be exported on April 12.

Mr Viswom said it was the result of one-and-half-year long efforts to convert the tribals into exporters.

''We had to do a lot of work to get the papers ready for organic certification and finally we got it from Lacon International, a german-based company. We have also got the certification from the Spices Board of India,'' he said.

The Minister said that due to the initiatives taken by the Government and the Forests Department, the tribals would be able to get the full benefit of their hard work by avoiding middlemen.

In the beginning, the ''Ecoland Herbs and Spices'', a German firm, which was also run by a farmers society, would purchase the organic pepper by providing 33 per cent more than what the tribals were now getting for their produce, he said.

Though these tribal families have been engaged in organic pepper farming, the middlemen were exploiting them all these years, he said.

Periyar Foundation under the state government, an apex body of 76 eco-development committees, and the state government jointly were behind the pilot project, he added.

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