Spices research body urges Indian government to take steps to prevent plant diseases

The Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) has urged the government to take adequate measures in a timely manner to prevent the spread of various diseases in spices.

High incidence of plant diseases and pest attacks has been noticed in many areas in the southern Kerala state.

Most crops, including paddy, coconut, pepper, rubber, nutmeg and cardamom, were badly affected in the recent floods. Spice crops such as black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon are perennial in nature and hence they needed to be replanted if plants were lost or dead.

Crops such as ginger or turmeric could not be replanted, as the planting season was already over. Chances of pest and disease incidence in survived crops, due to high humidity conditions, could lead to further losses.

IISR has recommended mitigating the problem for each crop: black pepper, cardamom, ginger, turmeric and nutmeg. An integrated strategy such as reducing water stagnation and removal of dead vines for black pepper and phyto-sanitation of damaged plants in the case of cardamom needs to be adopted, IISR has recommended.

Soil reclamation could be done using lime, green leaf manures, bio-fertilisers, coir pith, and composts. As the major spice growing soils were already acidic, heavy rain had aggravated the situation by increasing the acidity due to leaching of bases and organic matter.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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