Farmers, businesses struggle as pepper, cashew prices drop

The price of pepper and cashew in southern Viet Nam is falling as demand has dropped due to the COVID-19 crisis, affecting farmers and businesses.

 

Currently, the price of pepper in the Central Highlands and southern Viet Nam is VND34,500–37,500 (US$1.46–1.58) per kilo, the lowest in the past few years.

Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province’s pepper is among the highest priced in the region, but its price dropped by VND2,000 per kilo compared to last week.

The end of February also saw a 5 per cent drop of pepper price in Viet Nam compared to the end of January.

Hoang Phuoc Binh, deputy chairman of the Chu Se District Pepper Association in Gia Lai Province, said that while the farming areas and output of pepper in Viet Nam and other countries have risen greatly over the years, demand for pepper has only increased by 2–2.5 per cent each year.

The current supply of pepper is large since farmers in large farming areas have been wrapping up their harvest. But the COVID-19 pandemic is causing global market demand lower, so prices are dropping.

Farmers are losing VND15,000 per kilo as they have had to sell at a low price to have enough money for workers' salaries and equipment.

Pepper export turnover in the first three months of the year was $156 million, 18 per cent lower year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the price of cashew in southern provinces is VND18,000–19,000 per kilo, which is about VND10,000 lower than the beginning of the year.

Unfavourable weather has also dragged down the quality of cashews.

Some farmers are chopping down their cashew crop to switch to growing something else, while cashew processing businesses are also struggling with limited global demand.

Pham Van Cong, chairman of the Viet Nam Cashew Association, said that exports and the price of cashew will drop greatly within the year, and that the industry’s 2020 goal of $4 billion in export turnover will have to be reevaluated.

Cashew factories have been urged to slow down their transactions, keep up to date with the market, and pay more attention to product quality.

The association, however, noted that demand would not be dramatically low since cashews are considered a nutritious food, and that businesses should not be too pessimistic.

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