Adding life to spice

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

SCIENTISTS at the National Research Centre -- Spices (NRC-S) at Kozhikode in Kerala have developed a cure for the quick-wilt disease, which affects the black pepper crops. The disease, which decays the roots of the pepper vines and kills the plant within weeks, can now be cured by biological methods using 2 fungal varieties, trichoderma and gliocladium. Largescale field testing will be undertaken on 1,000 ha in different states during the monsoon crop season with the help of the department of biotechnology. The quick-wilt disease had wiped out crops in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where pepper forms one of the main export products. Biological controlling of the plant is more cost-effective at Rs 13-per-pepper vine, compared to the potentially harmful and expensive chemical treatment.

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