TeleSupport India Repository

Solution An agro-ecological approach to fungal-disease control in black pepper production
Last update: 24/12/2008
Summary This GP concerns the introduction of black pepper in the humid Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador. Mulching, extra sheep manure applications and planting Leucaena and Gliricidia helped to control Phytphthora, a fungus that attacks pepper roots, also known as sudden death or black root rot. The remaining disease, locally known as ’mal de hilachas’ (Pelicularia koleroga, black rot,) easily controlled in pepper by means of copper preparations (Bordeaux mixture).
Contributed by person details FAO Policy Admin
Challenge/Issue Location(s) Country: Ecuador
Description: Amazonean area, Lago Agrio

Since 1997 attempts at planting black pepper were carried out. Fungal diseases were the main problem. The high incidence of Phytophthora is attributed to earlier production of pineapple in the same location. Half of the 500 black pepper plants on the 0.25 ha pepper plot had to be replaced. In the advice Agromisa gave, a general introduction on the production of pepper was given. The following main points were stressed: Pepper production can provide good cash income for small farmers if prices remain favourable. Upon introduction of this crop, local climatic and soil conditions should be taken into consideration. Normally pepper is grown in areas without a clear dry season, it requires a hot wet tropical climate and is usually grown at low altitudes. It also needs well-drained soils, as it cannot stand water logging. It is therefore usually planted on mounds. However, even under sub-optimal conditions the production of pepper may be rewarding enough to make it attractive for small farmers. Pepper production is very labour intensive, requiring up to 600 labour days per hectare. Between 4 and 5 kg pepper of dried black pepper can be produced by each plant in the 4th to 10th years after planting.

Relevant Dates
- Date of Description 12/31/1997:
Relevant Contacts
- Practice Owner Same as Recorder
- Practice Recorder Agromisa Foundation - (AGROMISA)
Method The crop needs daily attention, in terms of soil fertility management, maintaining the mounds, weeding, making sure that the vines grow well attached to the pole and inspection for diseases. In the humid climate where pepper grows, good drainage is essential, to prevent water logging. Green manuring and mulching can greatly improve the internal drainage of the soil, as it promote biological activity by earthworms and other larger soil organisms. Planting distances must be large enough, in too narrow a spacing of plants humidity remains too high which promotes fungal diseases. The plants grow against stems or poles. Dead material is preferred over life poles, since the pepper plants grow better. However, pepper plantations can reach ages of 10 to 20 years, so rot-resistant material is needed for the poles. Concrete poles are suggested, or hardwood. If living trees are used as a support, suggested species are Albizzia or Leucaena, but often these trees compete with the pepper plants for soil nutrients. Fungal diseases are the biggest threat to a pepper plantation, especially Phytophthora palmivora. Phytophthora tolerant varieties are available, totally resistant varieties most probably not. In the demonstration plot, mulching was practised and leguminous trees like Glyricidia sepium and Leucaena leucocephala were planted. Well-weathered sheep manure was applied around the pepper plants.

Achievements :
Phytophthora was controlled. The remaining lesser problem of Pelicularia koleroga (a coffee disease causing black rot, locally known as ’mal de hilachas’) was controlled with cupper preparations.
Lessons learned Optimising growing conditions for a crop is more rewarding than focusing on the disease.
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Mr. Simon Jasperse (Kiboko, ICT4D, TeleSupport India)