Red spicy pepper is traditionally considered as the fundamental ingredient for multiple authentic products of Eastern Croatia. The objectives of a new study were to: (1) evaluate the optimal interpolation method necessary for modeling of criteria layers; (2) calculate the sustainability and vulnerability of red spicy pepper cultivation using hybrid Geographic Information System (GIS)-based multicriteria analysis with the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) method; (3) determine the suitability classes for red spicy pepper cultivation using K-means unsupervised classification.
The inverse distance weighted interpolation method was selected as optimal as it produced higher accuracies than ordinary kriging and natural neighbour. Sustainability and vulnerability represented the positive and negative influences on red spicy pepper production. These values served as the input in the K-means unsupervised classification of four classes. Classes were ranked by the average of mean class sustainability and vulnerability values.
Top two ranked classes, highest suitability and moderate-high suitability, produced suitability values of 3.618 and 3.477 out of a possible 4.000, respectively. These classes were considered as the most suitable for red spicy pepper cultivation, covering an area of 2167.5 ha (6.9% of the total study area). A suitability map for red spicy pepper cultivation was created as a basis for the establishment of red spicy pepper plantations.