CommodityOnline.com, the source of a story about commercial pepper being grown by the Paliyans of Kerala State back in September, has run another piece that provides more information about the venture. CGH Earth, a Kerala firm that runs resorts in that state, started a subsidiary, Natural Harvest ( India) Pvt Ltd., to reintroduce pepper cultivation among the Paliyans and a couple other tribal groups and to sell it to a German consortium that markets it to hotels and the food industry.
Until four years ago, guests visited a facility called Spice Village, one of the themed resorts operated by CGH Earth in the Thekkady forests of Kerala, primarily to tour the nearby Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. But now, according to Anand Haridas, chief naturalist at the resort, “a small proportion of our guests would like to observe plant life and biodiversity in our spice plantations.”
Spice Village itself has a history as a private arboretum. The former owner of part of the tract, A.W. Woods, was the first ranger of Periyar and the amateur botanist who developed the plant collections. The guest houses at Spice Village lack modern amenities such as radios, televisions, or air conditioning, according to the news story, but their roofs are made out of elephant grass in order to provide natural air circulation. They are surrounded by the spice plantings.
The news article maintains that the social and economic conditions of the tribal peoples involved with the pepper cultivation have improved as a result of the new venture.