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October 17, 2023  People's Daily Online  

China Succeeds Significantly in Chili Pepper Industry

Case Study;Value Chain Development for Smallholders;Chili Pepper;Exports;Agricultural Economy;Income Channels

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China is the world's largest producer and consumer of chili peppers, according to reliable data recently released at a chili pepper industry development conference in the country.

The annual planting area of chili peppers in China exceeds 30 million mu (2 million hectares).

Statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations showed that from 2000 to 2021, more than 30 percent of the world's chili peppers were grown in China. The output of chili peppers in China accounts for nearly half of the global total, making it the world's largest producer of peppers.

"Since the introduction of chili peppers to China over 400 years ago when it was originally used for ornamental purposes, people have discovered the diverse values of the plant, including edible and medicinal properties, and the planting scale has expanded accordingly," said Lin Qiao, associate research fellow at the Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS).

Thanks to the spread of spicy food culture in recent years, over 500 million people in China eat spicy food, Lin said.

China is also one of the major chili pepper exporting countries in the world, exporting both dried and fresh peppers.

China's chili pepper exports reached $1.7 billion in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 11.6 percent, according to data from the website of the Agricultural Trade Promotion Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA). The country's exports of dried chili peppers stood at $1.56 billion, up 8.1 percent year on year, while that of fresh peppers surged 71.2 percent from the previous year to $140 million. The top three destinations of China's chili peppers were the United States, Japan and Spain.

Southwest China's Guizhou Province, one of the earliest regions in the country to consume chili peppers, has kept the planting area of chili peppers per year above 5 million mu, which accounts for about one-sixth of the national total. It is the largest producer of chili peppers in China.

In recent years, Guizhou has continued to keep its chili pepper planting area steady, enhanced infrastructure construction, and vigorously promoted green, high-quality and high-efficiency production technologies, said Bu Tao, deputy head of the department of agriculture and rural affairs of Guizhou.

This year, the total planting area of chili peppers in Guizhou will reach 5.2 million mu, and the output of chili peppers is expected to reach 7.7 million tonnes, with the estimated output value of chili pepper planting and processing surpassing 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) and 16 billion yuan, respectively. The province's production and sales of chili peppers continue to rank first nationwide.

Aside from Guizhou, provincial-level regions including Henan, Yunnan, Hunan, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia are also major chili pepper producers in China. Guizhou, Henan and Yunnan take the top three spots nationwide in terms of chili pepper planting area, with a total of more than 10 million mu, accounting for about one-third of the national total.

Chili peppers have been planted in 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, said Wang Lihao, a scientist at the CAAS, adding that the planting area has grown by about 30 percent in the past decade and the chili pepper industry has continued to expand.

The chili pepper industry has helped farmers fatten their wallets in quite a few places across China.

"We have a great harvest this year, with a production of 3,000 kilograms each mu," said Tan Baohui, a chili pepper grower in Fuxing village, Kailu county, Tongliao city, Inner Mongolia.

"The yield is high, and the selling price per kilogram this year is 0.2 yuan higher than last year. The net profit of each mu of chili pepper field exceeds 5,000 yuan," Tan added.

Being the largest county in terms of the planting area of red chili peppers, Kailu county has kept its annual planting area of red chili peppers above 600,000 mu. The average annual output of red chili peppers in the county reaches 1.5 billion kilograms, according to an official with the county's agricultural and animal husbandry bureau.

The county's thriving chili pepper industry has directly helped 60,000 farming households engage in the planting of red chili peppers, and over 50,000 people work in the whole industrial chain of the chili pepper sector, generating 360 million yuan in labor income every year.

"The chili pepper industry is an important part of the agricultural economy. With the continuous extension of the industrial chain of the sector from planting and seed production, to primary processing and deep processing, the added value of chili pepper products continues to increase, further expanding the income channels for farmers," said Lin.

Focusing on the chili pepper industry, over 70 villages and townships in China have been selected for the demonstration of the "one village, one product" project aimed at boosting local industrial development, Lin added.

Lin said the chili pepper sector has played an active role in boosting local agricultural economic growth and consolidating the results of poverty alleviation.


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