Pepper output increases sharply but prices fall hinh anh 1Willem Scato van Walt Meijer, General Director of Nedspice Processing Vietnam Ltd., speaks at a meeting in HCM City on May 11 to review last year’s production and export of pepper. (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Vietnam’s output and export of pepper increased sharply last year, but their prices and thus turnover from exports fell, according to the industry association.

The Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA) and industry-related authorities attended a meeting on May 11 in HCM City to review last year’s performance.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the General Statistic Office, Vietnam has around 150,000 hectares under pepper and output last year was 240,000 tonnes, or 48 percent of global production.

According to the VPA there was a decrease in the use of pesticides last year since farmers are more aware these days of better farming techniques.

Prices have been highly volatile: the price of black pepper for instance declined from 133,000 VND per kilogramme in January to 73,000 VND in December.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs said 215,000 tonnes of the spice were exported for 1.1 billion USD, respectively up 20 percent and down 22 percent.

The reasons for the falling prices include climate change, a massive spike in the area under pepper, farmers’ inexperience, which have contributed to rising outputs but with poor quality.

In the first quarter of this year prices were around 30 percent lower than a year ago, the VPA said.

Vietnam’s exports this year are expected to be comparable to that of last year since the industry will continue to face all the current challenges such as climate change and diseases.

VPA plans to work more closely with farmers and businesses to help them comply with regulations and standards for pepper production and export and provide market information to help them make suitable decisions.

The Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute said they were researching into better pepper strains capable of withstanding diseases.

Willem Scato van Walt Meijer, General Director of Nedspice Processing Vietnam Ltd., which has been operating in Binh Phuoc province for the last five years, said quality control for exports and working closely with farmers were the keys to resolving the problems.

“We have a network of 1,600 farmers and trained them very carefully, and do 100 percent tracking and tracing of all our farms, which allows us to help certain farmers improve, monitor the effectiveness of each farmer, and reward outstanding farmers.”

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong had said at a meeting in January that the rapid increase in land under pepper should be addressed quickly and the pepper farming land should be reduced.-VNA