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Pepper cultivation area halved on Phu Quoc
Thursday,  Nov 20, 2008,17:36 (GMT+7)

Pepper cultivation area halved on Phu Quoc

By Le Hoang Vu - The Saigon Times Daily

Dinh Thi Hanh in her pepper garden on Phu Quoc Island. The falling price of the spice has resulted in sharply-reduced area under pepper cultivation - Photo: Hoang Vu
HCMC – Farmers have reduced the area under pepper cultivation in Phu Quoc Island off the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang by half over the past five years as falling prices have hit their incomes.

Pepper now is priced at VND30,000-32,000 per kilo, or just half the price of VND60,000-70,000 a kilo last year, resulting in big losses for farmers, said a resident on the island.

Vị trí đặt quảng cáo“This year’s pepper price has come down so sharply that farmers lose between VND15-20 million each hectare,” said Ly Thi Bui, who cultivates around 0.6 hectare of pepper in Cua Duong Commune.

“My family is still indebted of over VND10 million. The price of VND32,000 per kilo is unacceptable as we just broke even with the price of VND50,000 per kilo of last year,” Bui said.

Pepper is grown everywhere on the island, especially at Ganh Dau and Cua Duong communes. However, vast areas of the spice produce can be seen withered along the Provincial Road 47.

Though the harvest season is nearing, many farmers still abandon their pepper fields as they cannot afford expenses on fertilizer and labor, which has increased by 20% compared with two years ago.

Dinh Thi Hanh, another pepper farmer on the island, is also in the same distress.

“I expect to harvest one or two kilos of dried pepper from each scrub, not 4-5 kilos like last year’s season,” Hanh said.

Luong Cong Chu, chairman of Phu Quoc District’s Farmers Union, said that only 450 families are cultivating pepper on the island, down by a half from last year. During the peak time, Phu Quoc exported around 3,000-4,000 tons of pepper a year.

“If the price continued to fall, pepper farming of Phu Quoc would disappear one day,” Chu said.

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