To Nhan Co Commune, Dak R’Lap District (Dak Nong), it is not difficult to see pepper gardens planted about 20 years ago but are so green and bring high productivity. The common thing is that these pepper gardens are all cared for under organic and biosafety procedures.

The price of organic pepper of Dong Thuan Organic Pepper Cooperative, Nhan Co Commune, Dak R’Lap District (Dak Nong) is always about 30-40% or even 50% higher than the market price. (Photo: Internet)

 Sustainable income, high price

Mr. Dang Tan Huynh’s family, in Hamlet 6, Nhan Co Commune, has 10 hectares of pepper intercropping with coffee, jackfruit, avocado, and durian under organic farming techniques. The special thing is, although classified as “ancient”, was planted about 20 years ago, but his pepper garden is now still green, yielding from 4 to 5 tonnes/ha.

Mr. Huynh said that from the beginning of pepper planting, he was determined that misuse of chemical fertilizers would cause pepper plants to die. So, he chose to take care of the crops in an organic way, using cattle manure.

To get high efficiency, Mr. Huynh mixes cattle manure with peanut residue, and coffee peel, combined with microbial yeast, lime, and compost for about six months. Each year, he uses 20 – 30 kg of cattle manure for each pepper plant.

In addition to fertilizer, the whole pepper area is planted with live pillars to develop sustainably. In the garden, he always kept the grass with no chemical drugs.

In 2014, the pepper garden of Mr. Huynh’s family met the ecological farmer standard, USDA Organic certification of the United States. Initially, Mr. Huynh sold 1.6 tonnes of organic pepper at VND 200,000/kg, while the market price was only VND 165,000/kg.

In 2018, with 19 tonnes of organic pepper, he sold at 100,000 VND/kg, while the market price was only 50,000 VND/kg. In total, he earned 1.9 billion VND including expenses. In 2019, the pepper price went down to a record low of only 36,000 VND/kg, but his family’s organic pepper is still sold at 60,000 VND/kg.

“Growing pepper in an organic way is very effective. I have been growing pepper for over 22 years, with sustainable income and yield. The price of organic pepper is always higher than the market price, on average from 30 to 40%, even up to 50% higher,” Mr. Huynh said.

Support is needed

Currently, Mr. Huynh is the Director of Dong Thuan Organic Pepper Cooperative, Nhan Co Commune with 17 members growing 80 hectares of pepper in the organic direction; of which, 8 members have pepper gardens with organic standards certification.

Mr. Pham Ngoc, a member of Dong Thuan Organic Pepper Cooperative, has 2 hectares of pepper certified organic, shared: “The pepper garden of my family has been planted for many years but is still green, reaching a yield of about 4 tonnes/ha. Over the past four years, I have sold pepper to the Cooperative at twice the price of normal pepper ”.

For now, each year, Dong Thuan Organic Pepper Cooperative sells about 60 tonnes of organic pepper, accounting for only about 40% of the Cooperative’s pepper production. For the remaining 60% of pepper production, the Cooperative sells at normal prices.

According to Mr. Dang Tan Huynh, the current stage of pepper plant care and development is quite good, the members are experienced with organic pepper cultivation but consumption is still a major problem for the cooperative. Therefore, the Cooperative is looking for outputs to increase the consumption of organic pepper. Cooperatives are also in urgent need of support in trade promotion, helping to consume more products.

The pepper garden is planted with live pillars to develop sustainably. The grass is allowed to grow and absolutely no chemical drugs are used. (Photo: Internet)

According to Mr. Pham Tuan Anh, Director of Dak Nong Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in recent years, Dak Nong people have changed the production method of pepper to improve the quality of products and meet the export requirements.

Farmers have had a strong tendency to switch from traditional methods to organic farming. In accompanying farmers, Dak Nong agricultural sector has called on some enterprises to buy pepper at good prices, according to market standards. At the same time, the sector also supports farmers and cooperatives with organic production registration to be certified as organic products and prioritized in the market.

Dak Nong is the locality with the largest pepper yield nationwide with more than 33,000 ha and an output of over 60,000 tonnes. The province has planned 2 pepper production areas with high-tech agricultural applications in Dak Song district, Thuan Ha commune with an area of 416.4 ha, and Thuan Hanh commune over 1,133 ha.

In November 2021, the pepper product “Dak Nong” was certified by the Intellectual Property Department to register geographical indications. This is the first geographical indication of Dak Nong province, which marks a great success in confirming the quality and position of Dak Nong pepper in the market.