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  • CHAPTER 2 : Strateqies To Improve The Qualitv Of Black

    Pepper Cultivated In Kerala

    2.1 Introduction

    Black pepper (Piper nigrurn Linn.), the king of spices is the world's most important

    spice. This spice is the prime dollar-earning crop to lndia fetching an annual export of

    Rs.41651- million to the country (Rajan and Sarma, 2000), which is about 70% of the total

    earnings from spices to the national economy. Black pepper is cultivated in approximately

    2,00,000 ha in lndia with annual production of about 50,000 MT. This accounts for more

    than 50% of world's area of pepper cultivation, but contributes only around 25% of global

    production. Though lndia had a pre-eminent position during the 1950's by meeting 80% of

    world's supply of black pepper, the export has now dwindled to less than 33% as a result

    of stiff competition from newly emerged pepper producing countries such as Indonesia,

    Malaysia, Brazil and Vietnam (Senthikumara and Vadivel, 2000; Thomas eta/., 2002).

    Black pepper is obtained from the plant Piper nigium Linn. White pepper and

    green pepper are also developed as high commercial value products (Sudarshan, 2000)

    in addition to a number of different value added products (Appendix IV).

    Black pepper contains an array of phytochemicals. Volatile oil, oleoresin and

    piperine are the important products of high commercial value extracted from pepper.

    Accountability for the bioactive property of these extracts is due to the action of these

    chemical principles. List of various chemical compounds present in black pepper is given

    in Appendix V.

    Piper nigrurn Linn. is believed to have originated in the evergreen forests of

    Western Ghats of Peninsular lndia (Kandiannan, 2000). Out of more than 70 different

    cultivars that are cultivated in Kerala Panniyur I is considered to be the most outstanding

    one (Nybe et a/., 1999). However Karimunda, Narayakodi, Kuthiravali,

    Cheriyakaniyakkadan, Kumbhakodi, Karivilanchi, Perumkodi, Kalluvalli, Balankotta and

    Uthirankotta are also predominant in the State (Gangadharan, 1998a). Appendix VI

    represents cultivar diversity of black pepper in lndia.

  • Black pepper is traded under Agmark in the name of pepper grades. Standard grades

    prescribed under the provisions of Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act 1937

    are as follows

    I Garbled Pepper - Tellichery Garbled Special Extra Bold (TGSEB)

    Tellichery Garbled Extra Bold (TGEB)

    Tellichery Garbled (TG)

    Malabar Garbled (MG-1 and MG-2)

    II Ungarbled Pepper - Malabar Ungarbled (MUG-1 and MUG-2)

    Ill Light Pepper - Garbled Light (GL-Special, GL-1 and GL-2)

    Ungarbled Light (UGL Special, UGL-1 and UGL-2)

    IV Pinheads - Pinheads (PH Special and PH-1)

    Around 90% of the total export is of Malabar Garbled grade. Common

    internationally reputed grades other than MG-1 are Lampong, Sarawak and Brazil named

    after the country of origin. Agrnark grades are based on physical characters only, like size

    of the berries and presence or absence of contaminants. The factors that decide these

    properties are the stage of harvest and post-harvest processing other than, the cultivar

    and agronomic practices.

    The post-harvest processing of black pepper comprise threshing, blanching,

    drying, cleaning, grading, and packaging. Each step is important: but drying is the most

    crucial step for attaining quality and storage life. Open sun drying method is prevailing in

    Kerala. Mechanical drying, electrical drying, and solar drying are in limited use.

    Harvesting of pepper is done by manual picking of spikes containing unripe, but

    mature berries. Appearance of red or yellow colour in any of the berries of a spike

    indicates optimum maturity of that spike. For the production of black pepper, harvesting is

    done at this stage, while fully ripe berries are apt for white pepper production.

    Govindarajan (1977) reported that the practice (harvest at maturity) has been changed

    and the harvesting is done at different stages of maturity to meet specific requirement of

    end product. Harvested spikes are usually kept undisturbed for 24 hours or two days to

    ease threshing. In threshing spikes are put together and trampled under the foot to


  • ,.-. .-.- .-. .- -- separate the berries. Remarkable investigations on threshing, &'hi'e&d 'for $epper

    have been made (Ismall, 1984; Madasami and Godandapani, 1 8?) The ftweshed berrie 1 / \ \ are subjected to 'blanching', i.e. they are dipped in boiling

    These are then dried. In open sun drying method drying

    depending upon the climatic conditions (Krishnamurthy, et a/., 1993). Dried berries are

    collected and cleaned. The common method of cleaning is winnowing. Various types of

    'cleaners' have been developed to do this process (Madasami and Godandapani, 1996).

    The dried and cleaned product is stored in gunny bags for marketing.

    Traditional methods of pepper processing and post-harvest operations have a lot

    of problems. Unhygienic techniques and mishandling of the crops most often leads to

    contamination and low quality produce (Mamrnootti, 1999). It has been reported that open

    drying of berries results in contamination by dust, bits of reeds, stalks, bird droppings etc.

    (Sreekumar, 2001). Moreover as the drying period prolongs there is chance of microbial

    contamination. The delay in drying time and degree of microbial contamination can easily

    affect the aroma quality though no great changes may occur in the physico-chemical

    characteristics (Govindarajan. 1976). Generally farmers dry pepper only to a moisture

    level of 16-18% instead of the standard 11-12%. Quite often, the produce supplied by the

    farmers is not properly dried, cleaned, graded or packed according to recommended


    Pepper drying can also be done using solar dryers, but prevailing solar dryers

    have limitations. Considerable studies have been conducted by Shukla and Patil (1992)

    on various dryers and drying technologies for food crops. They suggested that in black

    pepper, lot of importance is given on the glossy finish. However pepper is grown in coastal

    region, where quality deterioration due to fungus on dried product is quite evident.

    Intensive research on drying principles and dryers has been carried out in India (Patil,

    1989; Palaniappan, 2000).

    Hot air drying of pepper developed in Sri Lanka is also recognized as outstanding

    method (Abeysinghe, 1982). In this method berries are dried in a hot air dryer at 110-

    117F after blanching for 2-3 minutes, until all the moisture is removed. Various drying

  • methods including artificial and solar drying prevail in Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia and Sri

    Lanka (Jacob et a/., 1985). However specific studies on black pepper drying for quality

    improvement are lacking.

    The foremost value of pepper is its flavour, aroma and pungency. The quality is

    attributed by its volatile oil, oleoresin and piperine in general. Moisture content and level of

    physical contaminants are also important while analysing export quality. According to

    Pruthi (1993) the alkaloid piperine is considered to be the major constituent responsible

    for the biting taste of black pepper. Retention of piperine, volatile oil and oleoresin is the

    prime criteria to be conceived while drying. In this investigation, the quality retention of

    pepper following the conventional post-harvest processing and solar tunnel drying is

    assessed. An extensive survey of pepper cultivation in Kerala and the quality of the

    commercial product is also conducted.

  • 2.2 Materials and Methods

    2.2.1 Taxonomy of P i ~ e r niarum Linn.

    Division : Angiospermae

    Class : Dicotyledons

    Sub-class : Monochlamydeae

    Series : Micrembryae

    Family : Piperaceae

    Genus : Piper

    Species : nignlm

    Origin of the species : Evergreen forests of South-Western ghats of lndia

    Habitat :Moist parts of Southern India (North Kanara to

    Kanyakumari), Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Brazil,

    Vietnam and some other tropical countries

    Habit : Climbing perennial shrub with five different types of

    branching. Branches stout, trailing and rooting at the nodes;

    leaves entire, variable in breadth, sometimes glaucous

    beneath, base acute, rounded or cordate, equal or unequal;

    flowers minute in spikes, usually dioecious but the female

    bears two anthers, and the male, a pistillode; fruiting spikes

    variable in length and robustness, rachis glabrous, fruits

    ovoid or globose, bright red when ripe, seeds usually

    globose, testa thin, albumin hard.

    Climate : Humid tropical climate (Relative humidity - above 50%)

    with adequate rainfall and tempsrature (10-40C)

    Soil : Clayey loam, red loam, sandy loam and laterite soils with pH

    4.5 - 6

    Distribution in lndia : (1) Coastal and midland area where pepper is grown as

    homestead crop

  • (2) Hilly regions of Western Ghats

    (3) High altitudes (intercrop with coffee and cardamom)

    (4) As a mixed crop with areca in plains

    (5) Malanadu areas of Karnataka

    Flowering season : June - August

    Pollination : Geitonogamy aided by rainwater and dew drops

    Harvesting season : Plains - November to January, Hills -January to March

    Morphology of the useful part . Fruit