|A man holds black-pepper roots in Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The warning has been issued by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Dong Nai Province, which said that the buying of such roots has been done for unclear purposes and showed dubious signs.
The purchase is likely to harm agriculture, social order and economic development in the area as it may cause the roots to be cut off by growers or thieves, the department explained.
The warning came in response to cases where black-pepper roots were recently bought by Vietnamese companies which then reportedly export them to China as an ingredient of the country’s traditional herbal medicines.
In Xuan Tho Commune of the province’s Xuan Loc District, four businesses have bought raw black-pepper roots at VND20,000 (just under US$1) per kilogram and dried ones at VND90,000 (US$4) per kilogram, Le Dinh Hung, deputy chairman of the local People’s Committee, said on May 7.
The roots are then handled by two other middlemen, Dong Nai-based An Nga Company and a firm in Ho Chi Minh City, before being sent to China, he said.
|The stump of a tree serving as a vertical support for black-pepper plants is seen in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
In the past traders offered to make purchases of black-pepper roots but local farmers refused since peppercorns fetched high prices at the time.
But recent price drops have forced them to replace the vines with other types of crops which they expected to be more lucrative.
The growers therefore have used the roots from cut black pepper plants for sale, Hung said.
The official added that over the past three months, growers in his area alone have converted over 10 hectares of arable land for cultivating alternative plants.
“The commune’s government has required An Nga Company to stop buying black-pepper roots, and asked for directives from higher authorities,” Hung said.