Shimla Mirch, also known as Sweet Pepper or Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum L. var. grossum) is one of the most famous agricultural produces of the lush green Kullu valley. This economically viable crop is revered for its taste, versatility and flavour and is widely used in Indian cuisine.
Almost 9 percent of India’s annual production comes from the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh where this cash crop is grown during the off season (summer and rainy season). The aromatic capsicums grown here are sold in the nearby markets of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Small and marginal farmers prefer to cultivate the indigenous varieties along with Yolo Wonder, California Wonder and others. The agro-climatic conditions (high altitude of 1230 m above mean sea level, hot summers, cold winters with snowfall and abundant rain in the monsoon season and fertile soil rich in organic matter) are favourable for cultivating their world-famous bell pepper that is rich in ascorbic acid, minerals and vitamins.
As the environmental factors are suitable, farmers stick to traditional practices, organic farming techniques, soil and water conservation and use of natural pesticides. The nursery sowing begins in the months of March to April and transplanting in April to May. The fresh produce is available in the local markets from June to February.
As the crop is cultivated entirely using organic means, its quality, shelf life and flavour are its biggest assets.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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