Periyar tiger safari – Green peppers and tigers!
It is common in South India to find local tribal farmers living close to key tiger habitat and of course they must be able to make an income to support their families. Not all of them can be park guards helping with tiger safaris or working for local hotels; so since they have a deep understanding of the forest and generally live in harmony with nature; it makes a lot of sense for them to be involves in organic farming..
Inside Periyar tiger sanctuary there is a tribal village called Vanchivayal and in the fertile forestland, all farmers grow organic pepper, thanks to the support of the Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation. Financially growing the organic pepper is very rewarding with the 63 families involved in the scheme receiving on average Rs. 270/kg; as compared to the local market rate of Rs.110/kg
A local EDC (Eco-Development Committee) encouraged the farmers to take up green pepper cultivation; which as well as being sustainable and not harmful to the national park (no pesticides are used and pepper can be grown without forest clearance) is much sought after in Europe, as the growth of organic food continued at a rapid rate. In fact, for a while the foundation sold direct to buyers in Germany, cutting the middle man out altogether, before government red tape meant the need to find private agencies who would bid for the harvest.
Securing the future of the tiger in India and a solution to the tiger/human conflict is far from solved and is a complex and emotional subject. However the success of the tribal farmers in Vanchivayal and their green pepper cultivation is surely a template which can be used in other areas of South India
For further information about our tiger safaris to Periyar please visit custom Indian wildlife tours