Here’s how Antony Vaidyar became a ‘Doctor of Pepper’
Vazhavatta native Antony Vaidyar is one of the rare farmers who could successfully survive the devastating flood. Antony Vaidyar is a pepper farmer who applies unique ideas to overcome the natural barriers of farming.
Antony Vaidyar has designed his own methods such as iron net support pillars and special chambers for pepper vines. About 20 varieties of pepper cultivated in organic method has given good yields after the heavy rain making the adverse conditions favourable to them.
Special chamber for vines
Many farms happened to get destroyed in the flood as the top soil was washed away. In order to overcome this situation, Antony Vaidyar made chambers for planting pepper vines. The chambers that have a height of two feet and an area of four feet are used for this purpose. Then the chambers are filled with bran, cow dung and soil.
Iron net for support
Then iron net is set up as the support pillar for pepper vines. The pepper is planted outside the pillar. As the vine grows more than two feet, water permeability can be ensured. A groundnut cake and cow dung solution can be poured at the bottom of the plant every week.
The chambers are made in a way that absorb the rain water to the ground. The iron net pillar was prepared in order to avoid the support trees getting affected with diseases. Once the soil is tilled, the iron net is fixed and is filled with areca nut husk. The pepper vines are planted after this.
The areca nut husk swells absorbing water and it supports the vines. The height is limited to ten feet to make it easy for maintenance. This method is far better than the plantation-based pepper farming.
Less space more yield
Antony Vaidyar nurtures about 20 varieties of pepper including Malabar, Sakthi, Thekkan etc. He expects a yield of two quintals of pepper from 37 vines planted two years ago, this harvest season. About four quintals of pepper can be harvested in the fourth year. He maintains all these vines in his 34-cent plot.
Use barrel and tyre
If making chambers using concrete is expensive, tar barrel and tyres also can be used for growing pepper vines. Open the bottom side of the empty barrel and plant the vines inside it. Wrap iron poles with nylon net and use it as support pillar.
Pile up four useless tyres one above the other and plant the pepper vine in the middle of it. The water collected inside the tyres will help pepper vines to grow. Both the methods have successfully been tried here.
Antony Vaidyar does not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He said that pepper will grow better when the bottom of the plant is not tilled using spade or pesticides are not used.