|A farmer in central Quang Tri Province's Cam Lo District dries pepper. Viet Nam's pepper exports were expected to fetch a record US$1 billion this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Ho Cau
HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam's pepper exports could fetch a record US$1 billion this year, with around 150,000 tonnes of the spice exported, according to the Viet Nam Pepper Association.
Addressing a meeting held in HCM City yesterday to review the association's performance in 2011-14 and set the agenda for the next three years, chairman Do Ha Nam said in the first four months of the year exports had been worth $519.2 million, 46.3 per cent higher year-on-year.
Pepper exports saw strong growth since 2011, rising from $693 million then to $898 million last year, he said.
The International Pepper Community has forecast global supply to fall by 45,000 tonnes this year to 320,000 tonnes and demand to remain high, keeping prices high, he said.
With a 50 per cent global market share, Viet Nam has been able to dominate the market, he said.
With importing markets like the EU demanding higher food safety requirements, the association as well as delegates at the meeting called on farmers to focus more on applying good agricultural practices (GAP) to ensure quality and help develop the industry in a sustainable manner.
Nam said: "Farmers are aware of the importance of adopting of GAP in pepper cultivation, but its use is still modest. The practice should be expanded further."
The association hopes to persuade buyers to pay higher prices for GAP-certified pepper to encourage more farmers to apply the standards, he said.
Hoang Phuoc Binh, deputy chairman of the Chu Se Coffee Association, said to sustain growth the industry needs to focus more on building brand names for Vietnamese pepper.
Duong Phuong Thao, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Import-Export Department, said relevant agencies should review plans for pepper cultivation because unregulated expansion would increase supply too much, causing prices to fall.
She also called on firms to invest more in technologies to diversify products and improve quality to add value.
The association urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to support the industry in applying VietGap standards to pepper cultivation, training human resources, and brand building.
Nam said the association would continue to monitor market information, analyses, and supply and demand forecasts to advise farmers and firms on exports.
Vietnamese pepper products are exported to 90 countries and territories, the association said, with the EU and Asian countries being the largest buyers.
The country has around 62,000ha under pepper now, and the output is estimated to reach 125,000-130,000 tonnes, marginally up from last year. It plans to import around 20,000 tonnes to process and export. — VNS