Introduction. A study on postharvest treatments of wild peppers
was carried out in Madagascar with the aim of describing the local practices and measuring
their impacts on the quality of the products. Materials and methods. Four
distinct pepper production systems (PPS) were observed, described and compared in two
separate areas in East Madagascar. Major quality characteristics (piperine and essential
oil) of the peppercorns were assessed in samples collected in the four systems.
Results and discussion. Two main postharvest processes (dry and wet) were
identified. The wet process differed from the dry one in that it involved two specific
operations, blanching and sweating. The processes influenced the color of the pepper.
Piperine contents were not affected by any of the pepper production systems, whereas
essential oil contents were reduced by up to 27% by the wet process. After processing,
piperine contents were up to eight times lower, whereas essential oil contents were up to
six times higher than the specifications of the standard ISO 959-1 for black pepper ready
for commercialization. Conclusion. Two main processes (dry and wet) for
treatment of peppercorns in Madagascar were identified and described. The dry process,
with two steps less, appeared to be easier to implement and more respectful to the
product. Improving maturity control and processing according to the quality expected by
the markets will be necessary to promote Malagasy peppers.