Ministry wants Sarawak on coffee map

Ik Pahon striking the gong to declare open the Borneo Coffee Symposium 2019, as organising chairman Kenny Lee (second right) and others look on.

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By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, April 6: The Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development aims to put Sarawak on the coffee map since it sits on the coffee belt and has suitable soil, climate and altitude to plant this crop.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik said this would enable farmers in the state to diversify their crops, moving from subsistence and cash crop farming to speciality production.

“We believe in the agricultural potentials of coffee here. It can allow our smallholders to find a new source of income and/or diversify their existing crops.

“In a global view, this move could also be one of the answers to sustainability issues coffee farmers are facing around the world,” Ik Pahon said when officiating at the Borneo Coffee Symposium 2019 at the Old Court House here today.

Earthlings Coffee founder and Borneo Coffee SYmposium 2019 organising chairman Kenny Lee (right) presenting a token of appreciation to Ik Pahon.

Earthlings Coffee founder and Borneo Coffee Symposium 2019 organising chairman Kenny Lee (right) presenting a token of appreciation to Ik Pahon.

He hoped that through the symposium, local coffee farmers and planters could exchange ideas with the expert speakers on how to intensify their coffee planting, production and marketing.

He said the experts would also propose to host coffee events that focus on coffee production and farming skills, training the ministry’s officers and smallholders.

Apart from that, local industry players could also create promotional campaigns for Borneo Coffee while looking into the agro-tourism potential of the coffee plantation industry, like visiting the highlands in Long Lellang and Bario or lower land farms in Betong and Lundu, where coffee is mostly planted in the state.

Ik Pahon told those present that in Sarawak, coffee was planted predominantly in the Miri and Limbang region.

In the case of Baram, Ik Pahon said some 1,280 coffee trees were being planted per hectare (ha). Each tree is said to produce 2kg of fresh beans, which translate to 2,560kg of fresh beans per hectare, he added.

“These beans are then processed and dried. The fresh to dry ratio is said to be 10:1. Therefore the dry beans produced per hectare in Baram is currently 256kg per ha,” he explained.

Malaysia has a total of 2,587.5ha of coffee planted areas, with the harvested 2,076.2ha producing 8,109.2 tonnes or 3.9 tonnes per ha. The state with the largest coffee planted area is Johor, followed by Sabah.

In Sarawak, he revealed that 20.7 metric tonnes of coffee were produced in 2017, encompassing 247ha of planted area and 41.2ha of harvested area producing 20.7 tonnes, an average of 0.5 tonnes per ha.

“I must note that the level of production per hectare in Sarawak is really low, compared to the national average of 3.9 tonnes per ha, and I understand that it is due to many factors, for example, logistics, natural environment, type of beans chosen to be planted or lack of expertise in the field.

“Therefore, we hope that this first-ever coffee symposium with the presence of experts in the field could assist in providing professional expertise to improve the yield,” he said.

Ik Pahon also revealed that for this year, his ministry anticipated an acreage of 111ha of coffee planted areas.

He said the ministry allocated RM2.15 million last year and RM3.15 million this year to be spread across Miri, Limbang, Kuching and Mukah to boost and enhance coffee planting and farming. — DayakDaily