Kerala history is closely linked with its commerce, which in turn was wholly dependent until recent times on its spice trade. Kerala was known for its spices and traders traveled here to trade and to gain control over this rich land. It is believed that the spice trade dates back three thousand years. Pepper still remains the king of Kerala’s spices, but the state also has a very rich produce in cardamom, cinnamon , nutmeg, ginger and turmeric. The state is the spice capital of the world. Over twelve varieties of spices including ginger, garlic, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, coffee, tea, clove and nutmeg is cultivated in Thekkady and its neighboring villages.
The pepper plant grows best in a warm and humid climate. Berries mature and are ready for harvest in about 180 to 200 days. Black pepper is produced by sun drying the mature pepper berries for 3 – 5 days after they are separated from the spikes by threshing, and white pepper by wetting mature berries in clean water for 5 – 7 days, removing the outer skin and drying the seed after thorough washing.