Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong speaks at the conference (Photo: VNA)
 
HCM City (VNA) – Vietnam will work to reform its peppercorn sector towards high quality production and food safety, instead of expanding cultivation areas, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Nguyen Xuan Cuong has said.

The minister made the statement during the Vietnam Pepper Outlook 2018 conference, which was held in Ho Chi Minh City on December 4 by the MARD, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Vietnam Pepper Association.

He explained that Vietnam aims to make clean agro products with a view to further engaging the country’s farm produce in the global distribution chain.

Cuong noted that while the global pepper area has increased three times in the past seven years, total production value has dropped by four times, with dried peppercorn prices falling from 250,000 VND (10.8 USD) to 58,000 VND (2.5 USD) per kg, causing great risks to farmers, as well as to stakeholders and distributors.

At the event, participants shared the current challenges facing Vietnam’s pepper sector – including the strict regulations of export markets, the usage of pesticides, and expanding business connections – and put forward suggestions for the sector’s sustainable development.

Gerhard Weber, representative of the European Spice Association (ESA), said Vietnamese farmers lack information on the requirements of pepper consumption markets. However, the country’s pepper quality has been improved recently and the export volume to Europe rose by 6 percent this year.

The ESA is willing to help Vietnam further improve its pepper quality and expand exports to European and American markets, he said.

Vietnamese pepper has been shipped to more than 100 countries and territories, making up 60 percent of the world’s exports. To meet the demand of consumption markets, 20 major pepper firms have invested in high technology processing plants, with processing capacity totalling about 70,000 tonnes a year.

The nation’s pepper cultivating fields spanned 152,000ha in 2017, accounting for one third of the total global area under pepper, yielding 240,000 tonnes of peppercorn or 48 percent of total world output. The country shipped more than 215,000 tonnes of pepper abroad last year, raking in about 1.2 billion USD.

Asia is Vietnam’s largest pepper consumption market, making up 51 percent of Vietnam’s total export. –VNA