Farmers in the island district of Phu Quoc, the southern province of Kien Giang, enjoy a bumper pepper harvest in 2013 with an output of 930 tonnes, up 7 percent from the previous year.

Phu Quoc is the largest pepper growing district in the Mekong Delta with nearly 430 ha under the tree. Pepper here is one of the best in the country.

Pham Van Hoa, a pepper grower in hamlet 2, Cua Can commune, said new farming techniques, particularly in the use of fertilizers, have helped increase the pepper productivity. Instead of fertilizing only once a year, he now uses a combination of cow, bat and fish manure for the plants depending on their growth period.

As a result, Hoa’s family harvested an average 3-4kg of pepper beans from each bush of pepper plants, compared to only 2 kg previously. They expect to bring in 2.8 tonnes of pepper this year, earning some 420 million VND (20,000 USD).

The island district has worked out plans to expand pepper area to 500 ha in 2015, while encouraging local farmers to adopt Global GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) cultivation model.

Pepper is an export staple of Vietnam, which is sold to more than 80 countries and territories, with the EU, Asia and the US being the largest importers.

Based on market forecasts, the Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA) expects pepper exports to reach 130,000 tonnes this year with a market value of 850 million USD.

Pepper is grown primarily in the provinces of Binh Phuoc, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.-VNA