Chilli is a very common spice cultivated in India. India is the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of chillies in the world. India has also the largest area under chillies cultivation in the world. It is grown nearly in all parts of the country, hills and plains. Almost all states producing this crop. It can also be grown during the entire year at one or the other part of the country.
The major producer is Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh commands around 53.27% (5.38 lac MT) of the chilli production in India. Area under chilli crop in Andhra Pradesh is around 1.72 lac Ha (25.12% of India). So the yield per ha of AP is almost double of the country’s average. The major chilly growing districts of Andhra Pradesh are Warangal, Guntur, Khammam, Krishna and Prakasham.
Rangapur village of Nallbelli Mandal (Warangal District) in Andhra Pradesh is famous for chillies grown there. Hectares of area have been grown under chillies cultivation. However till early 2000’s, maximum cultivation had been either rainfed or flood irrigated. This is Naxulist area. Most of the time, none of the corporate companies are not initiating their business affairs in such areas.
In 2001-02, Finolex team visited the area and studies the agro climatic parameters with special emphasis on chilli crop. Crop of chill is the major source of income for them. People were producing the red chillies, known as tomato chillies. Harvested red chillies are dries on the farm yards and then they are sold for oil and colour extractions. We found a classic example of a cottage agricultural processing industry of its kind here. Such cottage agricultural processing units will definitely be helpful for the upliftment and betterment of the rural economy.
Even after forming a good model, the farmers had been small and marginal farmers. The yield and cost of production had been the major issue. The farmers had been getting 15-20 quintals of dry red chillies in an acre. We met many farmers and discussed the methodology of increasing the yields. It was very difficult for them to digest the theories of yield improvement by adopting drip irrigation system.
So, in order to encourage them for drip irrigation, we organized a visit of 18 farmers to Kuppam. In Kuppam, a hi-tech state of the art irrigation project had been implemented by us. The famers of Kuppam had experienced bumper vegetables yield. The farmers of Rangapur village were impressed with the Kuppam farmers’ cultivation practices with drip irrigation. They could generate self- confidence of improving the quality and yield of chillies
But finance for the adoption of drip irrigation had been an issue. The cost of drip system was almost equal to the cost of land. The farmers were not in position to do the self finance. So we convinced the banks to do partial finance to the farmers. 9 farmers out of 18 visited Kuppam could adopt drip irrigation by virtue of self and bank finance in 2002.
Eventually there was huge scarcity of water for chillies that year. The crop had been damaged severely. There was huge wilting due to scarcity of water to the plant. But the 9 plots having drip were not showing any wilting symptoms. On the other hand, they were lush green. Naturally crop on drip gave good yields. The yield levels from 25 to 35 quintals of dry red chillies per acre. The increase in yield as compared to flood irrigation was around 40-50%. The system could be bought to the break even point in a single season due to additional yield.
After this experience, the remaining 9 farmers of Kuppam visit and additional 54 other farmers adopted drip irrigation for chillies within the span of 6 months. Since then, The concept of drip had been propagated. Now, more than 50,000 acre area in Warangal district is under chillies with drip. Our market share is more than 50%.