VietNamNet Bridge – Chinese businessmen have been collecting the roots of
pepper plants in Chu Se district of Gia Lai province, the biggest pepper growing
area in Vietnam.
Chinese businessmen appeared in the land to collect existing roots in late 2012.
At that time, Le Thanh Thiet in Pleiku City told Mai Xuan Dung in Chu Se
district that he wanted to buy pepper tree roots. However, Dung did not have
roots to sell.
In October 2012, Dung bought 450 kilos from Le Phuoc Tien, his nephew, who
planned to chop down some trees to upgrade the pepper tree garden.
Dung then collected 450 kilos of roots.
In December 2012, Dung sold the collected roots to Thiet and Nguyen Ngoc Thuy,
also a resident in Pleiku City for 17.3 million in total. A kilo of roots was
sold at VND60,000, while a kilo of stumps at VND20,000.
Thiet and Thuy then paid VND15.3 million out of the VND17.3 million they needed
to pay, promising to come back to pay the remaining money and carry the roots
Since then, Dung and his family members have collected 2 tons of roots more from
local farmers, planning to sell to Thiet when he comes back.
“Thiet and Thuy have not returned yet,” Dung complained. “I just try to collect
roots to sell to them, while I don’t know what they buy the roots for. I guess
they would sell the roots to Chinese businessmen,” he added.
Like Dung, the farmers in Chu Se district cannot understand why merchants try to
collect roots and trumps. A senior official of the Chu Se district’s localities
said if the information about the pepper plant root collection is spread out,
people would rush to cut their pepper trees or steal others’ trees for sale.
The Chu Se district’s police station has come to see Dung and told him to stop
the collection of pepper tree roots. The man has been asked to report to the
police station if someone comes to ask for pepper roots.
Nguyen Minh Chau, Head of the Blang commune’s police station has affirmed that
the root and stump collection has stopped. Dung proves to be the only collector
in the locality.
Truong Thanh Hoai, Acting Chair of Blang Commune also affirmed that no Chinese
businessman coming here to collect pepper roots has been found. He does not
think that the root collection would prompt people to chop down trees to sell
roots for money, because the prices are not attractive to farmers. Meanwhile,
Hoai said, there would not be many products to collect, because farmers would
only cut trees when they want to re-cultivate the gardens.
Meanwhile, experts say Hoai seems to be subjective on the issue. A local
resident said there are a lot of old pepper plant gardens which need to be
upgraded, which means that the volume of roots for sale would be big.
Especially, if buyers really want to collect pepper roots, they would try every
possible method to reach their end. In order to eradicate the Vietnamese
specialty, one would be ready to raise the collection prices to persuade farmers
to chop down trees and sell roots and trumps to them.