Very dear friends of ours, Colin and Kolquin live in India. Colin is in his 70′s and Kolquin in his 80′s. About 15 years ago they retired and chose the region of Kerala as their home. They bought a few acres of land and adopted the locals as their own. Para, Johnson and many others. They decided to start growing pepper as Kerala is the most famous growing area in the world for this incredible spice.
Victor and I were able to visit them in 2001. We found a community of three generations living in the most stunning countryside you could ever imagine. Grandparents, parents and children are working in this plantation. Thanks to the success of the pepper and all the support from Colin and Kolquin these families have running water, all the modern conveniences we enjoy, their children go to school and are clothed and fed. All of these basic needs that we take for granted didn’t exist for these families before the plantation was established.
What makes this pepper so special is that it’s hand picked and it’s organic. Unlike commercial pepper that you buy each string of berries is picked from the pepper vines only when they are ripe. This makes the picking three to four times more labour intensive that commercial peppers. Once picked they are left in the sun to dry for a few days then they are pasteurised to prevent salmonella. Cases of salmonella is very high in pepper due to the elephant and cow dung that is used as fertiliser.
White pepper is black pepper with the skin removed which is also done by hand by Wynad. We buy direct therefore ensuing that all the money goes back to the plantation to support the families. While fair trade ensures a fair price, the growers don’t get the best price and sometimes there can be three or four tiers of middle men inflating the price to the end users but not ensuring the best price for the growers.
Wynad is a huge story. But the region has had great losses over recent years. There has been a lot of blight and many of the crops have failed. Leading to one of the highest suicide rates of any farming community in the world. Grandfathers and fathers have been lost due to
the devastating loss of income these communities has suffered. One less mouth to feed has been the sacrifice these men have made for
their families futures.
So when you’re putting that little bit of ‘gioventù’ as we say in Italy, youth, on your food, it’s really a much much bigger and very special story…
Visit Wynad’s website to find out more : www.paraspepper.com
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