Pepper’s potential largely untapped

Ethiopia hopes that in the near future black pepper will become a major source of hard currency in the nation’s agricultural sector. The government plans to earn half a billion USD from spices by 2025. Pepper is seen as having a lot of potential and plans are to cultivate the spice jointly with other crops.

During the second Spice, Herbs and Aromatic Black Pepper investment forum and private sector platform meeting organized by the Ethiopia-Netherlands Trade for Agricultural Growth (ENTAG) and the Ethiopian Spice Aromatic and Herbs Growers and Producers Association experts said that the country has the potential to produce a huge amount of quality black pepper.

One advantage of black pepper is that it can be cultivated without complex technology.

It can be intercropped with other plants such as coffee, according to experts.

“It is a very young business in the country, pepper has been tested on state coffee farms in the past few decades and tabled for local markets,” Addisu Alemayehu, spice coordinator at ENTAG and researcher said.

Private farms began cultivating black pepper about four years ago once studies came out showing its potential.

“Over the past ten years spice production grew ten percent every year, when we just take black pepper into account it is actually dramatically high,” Addisu added.

According to the spice expert, the production of black pepper has grown by 1,800 percent since the cultivation was increased from 10 to 137 hectares over the past five years.

Locally the black pepper market is over USD 10 per kilogram. Ethiopian black pepper is worth up to USD 14 per kilogram on the export market. “It is over three times the amount of coffee and the yield is quite big when compared with coffee. Ethiopia producers, mainly coffee farms like Bebeka Coffee Farm are exporting the product to the European and Japanese markets,” he added.

Per hectare, farms have collected one ton of black pepper, scientists at Tepi Spice Research Center indicated that the country plans to harvest up to 28 quintals of black pepper per hectare.

Black pepper varieties produced in Ethiopia have registered high production quality, according experts.

Pioneer One Black Pepper, the highest quality variety in the world, is one of the products that Ethiopia has been able to grow.

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