On cultivating Kanthari, the indigenous pepper chilli of Kerala


Raveendran Thodeekalam

Kanthari

Most Malayalis have a special affinity towards spicy curries. For such spicy cravings, Keralites prefer no better ingredient than their own indigenous pepper chilly which is popular as 'Kanthari'. Not just as an ingredient, it can be used as a pickle and can be salted.

Many believe that Kanthari not just makes food spicy, but also is good for health. Some claim Kanthari is good in the management of rheumatic diseases, indigestion, flatulence and obesity. Similarly, it supposedly helps in blood filtration, reduction of bad cholesterol and better functioning of blood vessels. Kanthari is also identified as a source of Vitamin C.

Not just for Keralites, Kanthari has high demand in foreign markets. Mainly there are three varieties to it, the white, the green and violet. Among them, the green coloured variant is spicier.

How to cultivate Kanthari?

Kanthari is basically a crop fit for cultivation in the summer season. It is better if they are planted in home premises where much shade is falling. They will grow abundantly at a temperature of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. Highly fertile loamy soil with a pH factor between 6.5 and 7 is suitable for its growth. It can be cultivated as both lone crop or intercrop.

Saplings that are 35 to 40 days old are used for planting. The land needs to be prepared before planting the sapling. After that either manure such as cattle fertilizer (100 grams/one cent) or compost (100 grams/one cent), or fertilizers such as urea (660 grams/one cent), Rajphos (880 grams/one cent) and 180 grams of MOP (180 grams/one cent) should be mixed in the soil base in 4*2 feet distant channel. Though the plant can sustain drought, watering must for better yield. The weeds should be cleared out and soil should be heightened regularly. Monthly, fertilizer mixture or organic mixtures can be applied for each plant.

Harvest

The plant starts to bloom in two months and harvest can be collected from the third month. It can be collected at a gap of two weeks. In a harvest, a single plant can provide a yield of 200 grams. Hence, a farmer can harvest 2 to 3 kilograms per year in 3-4 years. This can be done for four to five years. For common pests, only organic pest controlling measures should be used.

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