Seeking safe pepper production and supply chain

13:15 | 24/12/2016 Economy- Society

(VEN) - Pepper is one of the 11 agricultural key products prioritized by the government. Vietnam has exported pepper to 95 countries and territories worldwide, accounting for half of the world’s pepper exports. To further develop and bring into play its potentials, the pepper sector needs to solve a number of problems and go toward a safe production and supply chain.  

Growing pepper in Binh Phuoc Province

Exceeding plan

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Crop Production, pepper cultivation has increased rapidly, from 49,100ha in 2005 to more than 101,600ha in 2015 and 110,200ha in 2016, far exceeding the 60,200ha target to 2020 set by the ministry. Of this, the southeastern region and the Central Highlands account for almost 95 percent.
The Binh Phuoc Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development assessed that pepper cultivation has increased considerably since 2013 due to increases in the pepper price, which encouraged farmers to narrow the area of other crops and expand pepper cultivation.

However, the aforementioned ‘hot’ and spontaneous development, according to Department of Crop Production Deputy Director Nguyen Van Hoa, will not be a favorable condition to build up central pepper growing areas with good transportation, electricity and irrigation infrastructure. Pepper varieties used in Vietnam haven’t been systematically selected; the quality, therefore, remains unsustainable and vulnerable to pests. Many farmers still have no consistent solutions to pest control.

Going towards cleaner production

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked provinces to review pepper cultivation areas and get farmers to follow the approved pepper cultivation plan, ensuring that farmers will not grow pepper arbitrarily, especially in regions suffering from water shortages, unsuitable for pepper cultivation or areas already planned for other crops. The ministry told the Department of Crop Production and the National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection (NIAPP) to review the pepper cultivation plan soon.

Nguyen Mai Oanh - Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Pepper Association said that with all markets, tariff barriers have brought Vietnam unprecedented advantages, but a series of technical barriers have been launched in all continents. Many Vietnamese pepper processors and exporters spent millions of US dollars to procure modern technology and equipment to satisfy the increasingly strict standards and regulations of foreign markets. However, raw materials are the key to product quality so on-field quality control is very important to maintain and improve Vietnamese pepper’s quality. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be issuing new regulations on agricultural and food imports, including pepper from Vietnam. If pepper cultivation and quality are not controlled, Vietnam will face an overproduction problem, and thousands of pepper farming households will suffer, she said.

Nguyen Mai Oanh - Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Pepper Association said that although pepper accounts for only five percent of the total area of five key cash crops, it makes a 10 percent contribution to the export value and ranks first among export serving crops in revenue.

Thanh Ha