Paper, popularly known as the "King of spices" and it accounts for occupies largest percentage in the international spice trade. It is most widely used spice all over the world. Black pepper of commerce is the mature dried berries of the woody perennial evergreen climbing vine, Piper nigrum. Pepper is cultivated over an area of 32,800 ha of Sri Lanka and Matale, Kandy, Kegalle, Kurunegala and Nuwara Eliya are accounted as major districts of cultivation.
It can be grown either as a mono crop or as a mixed crop in the coconut and tea plantations using live and dead standards as support. Pepper is an ideal crop for home gardens where it can be trained on the existing tree species as well. Sri Lankan black pepper has higher piperine content which conduces to fetch a premium price in international spice trade.
The plant can be grown up to the elevations of 1,200m from the sea level with an annual rainfall of not less than 1,750mm. Areas with prolonged drought may not be suitable unless there are adequate facilities for irrigation. Prevalence of sufficient rainfall during the flowering season is essential to ensure maximum pollination. Being a crop of the humid tropics, its growth and yield performances will be better in areas with low diurnal variation in temperature.