By Our Editor
Among different spices used for making food taste better is black pepper. When people suffer from cough or sore throat or any inconveniences to throat making swallowing of solid food difficult emergency remedy is gurgling of the mouth with ground pepper mixed with some salt. Pepper belongs to spice family, which are products of aromatic or fragrant plants that flourish in the tropical regions and they also include ginger, cinnamon, cloves, etc. In earlier times spices were used as perfumes during religious ceremonies because of pleasing incense emitted when they were burnt and people also felt that perfumes pleased gods and goddesses. Subsequently, they were used as medicines since they were presumed to possess magical powers. For centuries almost all spices came from southeast Asia especially from Spice Islands or the Moluccas now part of Indonesia. Because of high demand for spices many countries in the world are now growing at least one variety. India and Indonesia continue to grow abundantly which earn much revenue from export.
Government of Meghalaya is encouraging farmers to grow black pepper not only for domestic consumption but also for export outside and black pepper thrives in the state. State personnel in different districts where different varieties of spices grow well, especially black pepper, have launched black pepper programme under Spice Mission creating awareness and distributing quality seeds and saplings. On August 5, programme under Spice Mission-Spice Development Scheme 2022-23 was organised by district horticulture officer, West Garo Hills at Rongram Horti Hub. Chief Guest, Thomas A. Sangma, North Tura MLA, who is also Chief Adviser to Chief Minister, informed the gathering about reasonable prices fetched by black pepper which grows abundantly in Garo Hills and encouraged increasing production so that Meghalaya can become one of the best top states in the country within next ten years. Similar programme was organised at Ampati, South West Garo Hills district at Multi Facility Centre on August 9 by the office of district horticulture officer, Ampati. Chief Guest, A V D Shira encouraged beneficiaries to make use of facilities provided by government in improving economy of the state and at the same time she appealed them to make themselves financially sound. Joint Director of Agriculture, West Garo Hills district, SS Kharsati in her keynote address mentioned that Garo Hills is climatically suited for cultivation of black pepper and hence the mission will increase employment opportunities. District agriculture officer of Ampati JS Momin offered full cooperation to farmers inviting them to visit his office for any help. Total of 84,800 high yielding black pepper varieties from Kerala were distributed to 212 beneficiaries from 19 different villages.
Ri War and Ri Bhoi regions of Khasi Jaintia Hills sector also produced good amount of black pepper since long time back but ceased to devote enough attention because of unprofitable market values. However, with increasing demand and reasonable price farmers can also avail facilities of black pepper programme which is part of Spice Mission and hence earn lucrative income.