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Agri-Biz & Commodities - Spices & Condiments
Cleaner technology for white pepper production

Our Bureau

Thiruvananthapuram, March 26 A microbial technology developed by the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) promises to provide a cost-effective and hassle-free means of white pepper production.

White pepper is the most remunerative value-added form of green and black pepper, but the cost of processes and quality concerns have constrained its production.

The demand for white pepper is on the up, thanks to its worldwide appreciation of being a culinary agent. Topically applied contaminants, including pesticides if any, are removed through ‘dismantling’, which is an added attraction.

RETTING PROCESS

The most widely practised method of production is retting, a crude process that begets only inferior quality white pepper. A limited quantity of white pepper is also being managed through selective decortications of ripened fresh pepper berries.

Decorticated black pepper is a form of white pepper produced by decortication (dismantling) of the outer skin of black pepper. This is generally done when white pepper is in short supply. The dismantling process is achieved through careful mechanical stripping (rarely done), chemical treatment (poor acceptance) or biological methods.

Though fetching comparatively better quality white pepper, the cumbersome methodology has acted as a dampener. Also, the process can be employed during selected periods only.

BIOLOGICAL PROCESS

The biological process is preferred to others since it enables preparation of skin-free pepper, without foreign substance getting added or valuable ingredients being flushed out of the kernel.

Dr V.B. Manilal of the NIIST has patented a fast, simple and pollution-free microbial technology that ensures production of better quality white pepper. It also yields methane energy as a by-product.

The new technology is now under commercial implementation at the Wayanad Social Service Society (WSSS), Mananthavady, in north Kerala. WSSS has plans to set up a bigger plant to meet its export demand. The biogas being produced would be trapped for energy applications.

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