A country with a tropical climate such as Indonesia is a paradise for pepper cultivation. It is no exaggeration to say that pepper is the king of spices because of its potential as a lucrative trading commodity in all parts of the world and also for its distinctive flavor.
While Indonesia should be proud of its achievement of exporting more than 27 thousands tons of pepper in the first semester of 2019, it should also remain cautious of its position as a long-established pepper exporter. Indonesia’s current value of exports often lags behind other pepper exporting countries in Asia such as Vietnam, India, and China, and one of the factors that contribute to this lag is the suboptimal process of pepper cultivation in the country.
Pepper cultivation strategy
According to a report from the Directorate General of Seasonal and Spice Crops of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, the production of spices in 2017 was dominated by three prominent commodities: pepper, clove, and nutmeg, with pepper being the most promising export commodity.
With knowledge of this potential, pepper farmers need to put their best effort into setting up strategies to manage their farms for maximizing their yields. Farmers are required to not only rely on Indonesia’s naturally conducive climate for pepper growth but to also take into account several crucial factors for successful pepper cultivation, including:
Pepper farmers need to know the right quantity and type of fertilizer to be applied to their farms. Proper fertilization is a crucial factor in determining the success of pepper cultivation. If too much fertilizer is applied or the incorrect type of fertilizer is used, the soil quality will be suboptimal to support pepper growth. On the other hand, applying too little fertilizer can also threaten the quantity of farm yield. Instead of getting maximum results during the harvest period, pepper plants will eventually experience imperfect growth.
Volume of water
Additionally, pepper farmers also need to know the correct volume of water to use on the pepper plants in their farm to optimize the irrigation process, as it is one of the key factors to success of pepper cultivation. If pepper farms are over-irrigated, the cost borne by the farmers will also be higher due to wasting water. Moreover, if the price of pepper is volatile or unstable, the potential profit farmers stand to earn will also decrease. Alternatively, pepper plants can also suffer from drought stress if farms experience water shortages, which will also cause farm yields to decrease.
Good Agricultural Practices
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is an essential knowledge for pepper farmers to master. GAP is a standard guideline that is prepared by experts and range from pre-harvest to post-harvest practices that ensure good quality that is safe for consumption is competitive with the market. The parameters in the GAP for pepper farmers are not meant to be restrictive, rather they are meant as guidance to be used for effective cultivation to maximize yields. Furthermore, applying these practices ensures the quality of the harvest is in line with the GAP standard.
Do you update your crop condition regularly?
There are several factors that affect the application of good practices in the field. One factor is how diligently pepper farmers monitor and update their crop conditions. The good news is that the SpiceUp mobile application simplifies the process of updating information on the condition of pepper plants.
When farmers first use the SpiceUp application, they will be asked to register their farms by plugging in their coordinates into the app, which will allow for information about their farm condition to be processed through available field and satellite data. Farmers will then be able to receive information and recommendations that are tailored specifically to their farm location, including fertilizer and irrigation advice, pest and disease management, and sustainable traceability systems.
Pepper farmers will also be able to update the condition of their crops directly into the SpiceUp app which will allow for better monitoring of their conditions. The following are lists of crop conditions that can be updated by the farmers.
- Plant Growth: number of nodes; the number of climbing trendils (orthotropic shoots); the number of branches.
- Health Parameter: leaf color; leaf size; stem condition; the appearance of the whole pepper plants; stiffen leaves hang upright.