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March 16, 2024  China Daily  

Hainan Town's thriving Pepper Industry Is Nothing to Sneeze at

Case Study; Value Chain Development for Smallholders; Pepper; Hainan

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Chen Mingzhi has been growing pepper in Haikou, Hainan province, for over 30 years.

Last year, he produced 2.25 metric tons of dried pepper at his farm in Zantong village, in the town of Dapo, which sold quickly and profitably.

"Thanks to this success, I can build a brand-new house this year," he said. "I'm planning to add another floor next year."

Many villages in the town are renowned for cultivating pepper, and in Zantong almost every household plants pepper, Chen said.

Pepper, often hailed as the king of spices, established roots in Hainan through the efforts of overseas Chinese who brought the crop from Indonesia in the 1960s. Since then, pepper has thrived and become an integral part of the town's agricultural landscape.

Dapo now boasts Hainan's largest pepper planting area and the largest modern continuous pepper production base in China. It grows pepper on about 2,640 hectares of land, producing 3,804 tons a year valued at 145 million yuan ($20.1 million).

To enhance the quality of Dapo pepper, the pepper planting area in the town implemented two key technical systems in 2021 that revolutionized the way pepper is grown and harvested, said Yu Shun, a project manager at Hainan Alinong Technology Co.

One is a water and fertilizer integration system, which uses internet of things communication technology to optimize farmland irrigation.

"This allows for networked remote management and monitoring, resulting in reduced operating costs and labor intensity," Yu said.

The other is an intelligent agricultural detection system that utilizes computer remote monitoring to achieve real-time data analysis of the pepper planting area.

"This advancement aids in informed decision-making in pepper agriculture and increasing agricultural production efficiency," he said.

The agricultural service center in Dapo understands the farmers' needs and offers hands-on support. By conducting regular surveys, it identifies the technical challenges that require timely solutions and provides guidance in areas such as breeding seedlings, planting techniques and pest control, said Wu Qingju, an agronomist at the service center.

Thanks to the support of the local government and professional technical expertise, Dapo pepper has become a premier brand in the province, paving the way for the emergence of leading enterprises and cooperatives in the industry.

Haikou Dongchang Pepper Co established a "pepper bank" in 2022.Farmers can deposit raw pepper in the bank if they are dissatisfied with the market price, entrusting the company to handle the sale.

"Properly stored, peeled and dried raw pepper materials can be preserved for three to five years," Wu said.

The bank also extends financial aid to farmers for planting and managing pepper, providing them with up to 50 percent of the value of their harvested pepper.

Raw pepper materials are often processed into products such as pepper bricks, peppercorns and pepper cookies, which are sold wholesale mainly to Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang, said He Dunfu, general manager of Hainan Impression Dapo Industrial Co.

The town's pepper products are now sought after domestically and internationally. In 2018, "Dapo pepper" received approval as a national geographic indication certification trademark. Two years later, it was named a national geographic indication of agricultural products.

Dapo exported 20 tons of pepper in the first half of last year and clinched overseas deals for a further 800 tons, according to the town government.


Hainan Town's thriving Pepper Industry Is Nothing to Sneeze at


Hainan Town's thriving Pepper Industry Is Nothing to Sneeze at


Case Study