The Government and the agricultural sector need to work together to overcome difficulties facing Vietnam’s peppercorn industry, which is forecast to show unsustainable development, as heard at a recent conference in Ho Chi Minh City.

The instablility was attributed to rapid plantation expansion and intensive farming.

Vietnam’s total peppercorn area was estimated to exceed 80,000 hectares by the end of the first quarter of this year, nearly doubling the figure set in the sector’s development plan, with key farming zones concentrating in Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Dong Nai, Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Dak Nong provinces.

Hoang Phuoc Binh, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the Chu Se Pepper Association in the Central province of Gia Lai, warned that the increasing plantation expansion will lead to high output but low price, challenging the industry.

Pepper growers will also cope with other difficulties in 2015 with increasingly destructive insects and climate change, especially in newly-cultivated zones.

On the other hand, Vietnamese peppercorn has not met quality and food safety standards strictly required by many foreign importers, said Do Ha Nam, Chairman of the Vietnam Pepper Association.
Nam added that his agency has put forward a plan to set up sustainable production areas along with trademark generation in order to increase the quality of peppercorn and meet global food safety standards.

Vietnam has been one of the leading countries in exporting peppercorn in the world in recent years. Its peppercorn is sold to over 90 countries and territories, accounting for 30 percent of the total global production and 50 percent of the total global exports respectively.

Currently, the Vietnamese peppercorn sector produces 2.16 tonnes of dried berries per hectare, one of the world’s highest yields.

In 2014, the country exported over 156,000 tonnes of peppercorn, up 16.4 percent from 2013 and equivalent to 58 percent of the global market share of peppercorn. The sector’s export turnover reached 1.2 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 34.7 percent.-VNA