Towards sustainable development of pepper plants

Pepper is the main crop of our country. Currently, the total area of pepper cultivation in the whole country is more than 130 thousand hectares. They mainly concentrated in the Southeast region and the Central Highlands with an area accounting for over 95% of the pepper area of whole country; the rest are scattered in the North Central and Central Coast provinces. Pepper is a crop that brings economic value and is one of the main export agricultural products of our country. Developing pepper in the right direction and sustainably has great economic significance, contributing to the economic growth of the country in general, the economy of the region and the locality in particular, as well as contributing to the hunger eradication and poverty reduction, improve the life of farmers.

Vietnam always holds the number 1 position in the world in terms of pepper production and export. Implement the restructuring of crops in the direction of restructuring the agricultural sector, whereby, in the period 2026-2020, the goal for pepper is to stabilize the area of ​​about 98 thousand hectares, mainly concentrated in the regions with advantages (Southeast, Central Highlands) and intensive farming to improve productivity and product quality. In 2010, the pepper cultivation area was only 51.3 thousand hectares. However, from 2010 to 2016, due to the continuous increase in the price of pepper, farmers focused on expanding the planting area massively, causing the pepper area in the whole country to increase rapidly, some localities developed “hot” leads to break planning. In 2015, the pepper area reached 101.6 thousand hectares, nearly double that of 2010. The pepper area increased sharply in 2017, 2018, the highest reached over 150 thousand hectares in 2017, then due to the price decrease and not stable, so by 2020 it was 131.8 thousand hectares, an increase of 30.2 thousand hectares compared to 2015 and an increase of 80.5 thousand hectares compared to 2010.

During the pepper price period, the cultivated area increased too quickly even in areas unsuitable for pepper growing. Due to those price was high, farmers grew pepper too much but after 3-4 years, they could be harvested. When pepper is harvested, at the same time pepper prices drop, so the efficiency was not high, farmers left the garden without taking care of it, reducing the yield and quality of pepper products, affecting the Vietnamese pepper brand in the world agricultural products market.

Vietnam’s pepper output accounts for more than 40% of output and nearly 60% of the world’s pepper export market share. 95% of Vietnam’s pepper volume is for export, the remaining 5% is consumed in the domestic market. Pepper prices peaked in 2015 and 2016, on average, foreign currency earned from 8000-9500 USD/ton of exported pepper. Since 2016, pepper prices have continuously plummeted, so growers have limited or no care, no pest control, resulting in poor yield, quality and low efficiency. By 2019-2020, on average, each ton of pepper for export only earned 2,300-2,500 USD.

At this price, pepper growers face many difficulties, losses, and inability to repay loans borrowed to invest in pepper cultivation. In the first months of 2021, the domestic and export prices of pepper continuously increased. Pepper is gradually improving after a long time of falling. This is a good sign for the pepper industry in general and for pepper farmers in particular. Although Vietnam ranks No. 1 in the world in pepper production, it still has many uncertainties and is not sustainable. Vietnam has exported pepper to 105 countries and territories with the highest export turnover in 2016 with 1,429.2 million USD, then gradually decreased in 2017, 2018, 2019 and in 2020 reached only 660,6 million USD with the export volume reached the highest with 285.3 thousand tons.

Pepper is a key crop that brings high economic efficiency if it has the right development direction and ensures sustainability. Therefore, in order to sustainably develop pepper plants, it is necessary to first plan the areas for planting and producing materials; focusing on planting areas with advantages for pepper plants to grow, reducing pepper acreage in unsuitable places; thereby serving as a basis for planning production and processing networks; have an appropriate mechanism to ensure the close connection between agricultural product processing and raw material production, ensuring a solid foundation for the restructuring of crops. Besides, it is necessary to improve the quality of pepper, thereby raising the export price of pepper. The price of pepper depends on the type of seed as well as the quality of the seed, so to raise the price for pepper, the core measure are in the cultivation and post-harvest stages. Focus on raw material areas, cut down old trees with low yield, do not new plant in dead pepper areas; focus on caring for trees for high yield and quality. The agricultural sector must immediately focus on pepper varieties, select good varieties for recognition, and find standard farming procedures for each ecological sub-region. The pepper is harvested at the right time when the pepper is ripe, the post-harvest preservation is ensured so that the pepper is not lost and the quality is maintained. In order for pepper to be priced, to avoid over supply, pepper processing and exporting enterprises must diversify processed pepper products. Promoting the application of science and technology, standardizing the farming process, linking pepper production in the direction of clean agriculture is an inevitable direction to develop sustainable pepper in Vietnam.

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