By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, July 29: The Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) will resume purchasing pepper from farmers on Aug 8 at the same prices.
The prices are RM8.90 per kg for black grade 1, RM15.60 per kg for white grade 1, RM9.80 per kg for LBE black special, RM16.20 per kg for LBE white FAQ and RM19.90 per kg for LBE creamy white pepper.
This was revealed at a press conference today, where MPB chairman Larry Sng was responding to queries on why MPB had to temporarily suspend purchases, and allegations that farmers were rushing to sell their pepper in Sarikei, as reported in a local newspaper online at 12.05am on July 27.
Sng, who is also Julau MP said that although the board recently announced a temporary suspension on purchasing pepper from July 26, they had not turned away any farmers who came to them to sell pepper.
“The temporary suspension was due to warehouse and storage constraints. At the moment, the country’s pepper farms are at the height of the harvesting season,” he said, adding that this is not the first time MPB has stopped buying pepper temporarily.
“We have been buying more than what we can process. In fact, we buy peppers at RM0.80 to RM2 higher, depending on location, compared to prices offered by pepper traders in Malaysia.”
Meanwhile, he refuted the allegation that farmers are rushing to sell their pepper.
“There were only about 20 sellers in Sibu and less than 10 sellers at our Bintangor branch on July 26. Although we’ve officially announced a temporary suspension to purchase their pepper, we won’t tell them to go away if they show up at our branches. We will still accommodate them because we understand the situation. These are small-time farmers and many of them come from far away villages to the processing centre,” he said.
There are about 33,500 pepper farmers in Malaysia, and Sng said 95 per cent of them are based in Sarawak.
As pepper is highly seasonal, he said many farmers will want to sell their harvest as soon as possible, so MPB is doing their best to meet the farmers’ needs.
“Thus we appeal to all farmers to understand and cooperate with MPB, to hold their stock temporarily and we promise to resume buying their pepper at the same prices we last bought at,” he appealed.
He added that various measures have been taken by MPB to alleviate the situation during this harvest season.
“These processing plants have dry and wet cleaning facilities, with steam treatment for higher quality Sarawak pepper for international markets to fetch higher value. The machinery also has its limit in processing capacity. Therefore we have added our manpower and increased the work shifts at all three processing plants in Kuching, Sibu and Sarikei,” he added. — DayakDaily