02 September 2022, Cambodia: Pepper, a world-prized spice native to South and Southeast Asia, is Cambodia’s major cash crop with growing significance. Today, with the help of XAG agricultural drone, this ‘king of spice’ can overcome the long-standing challenge of farmers enduring long hours and heavy workloads.
Three Years to Reap A ‘Spicy’ Harvest
Cambodia’s warm, humid climate and fertile red soil make it a “paradise” for pepper growth. The Kampot Pepper from Cambodia is the first pepper variety in the world to be awarded the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) by the European Union, a certification recognizing products of exceptional quality that can only be produced in a designated region.
In a pepper plantation of Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Province, 65-year-old Mab is looking intently over the towering pepper pillars, while a red drone hovered from the top of this rainforest-like pepper garden. As the manager of a 1.5 hectares plantation, he has invested heavily in this spice garden: the pepper has to wait 3 years after planting before it can be harvested. During that time, constant and meticulous care was required.
Less Manual Effort to Bear Fruits
In Mab’s previous experience, he had to take a lot of time and effort and employed many workers to look after the pepper’s new shoots and leaves, preventing them from being eaten by pests. However, pepper has climbing vine that can grow over 4 meters height. The top shoots and leaves are difficult to maintain by conventional plant protection methods.
According to Mab, the emerging labor shortage has made hiring farm workers more difficult. If he missed the best timing, the peppers are likely to lose their ability to bear fruit due to the pests, resulting in severe yield loss.
This August, under Mab’s watchful eye, a P40 drone has took off under the control of a skillful pilot from XAG local partner Red Sparrow Cambodia. The drone reached the designated spot and spray insecticide top down from the air on pepper shoots that growing high up in the ground. The pepper crops were precisely sprayed to improve efficiency and avoid overdose.
In face of labor shortage, agricultural drones are leaving their digital footprint on this significant cash crop. Next time, when your taste buds are conquered by the rich, spicy, finger-licking aroma of black pepper, don’t forget that Cambodian farmers are seeing the next boom in pepper cultivation
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