MPB launches Dr Lada app to help pepper farmers

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (third left) launches Malaysian Pepper Board's 10th anniversary celebration and Pepper Festival 2017 event yesterday.

KUCHING: A new online application called “Dr Lada” can now disseminate information and virtual solutions to farmers on common diseases that attack pepper plants.

In congratulating a group of researchers from Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB), Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the application using latest technology development for the convenience of these targeted groups will help to save time and provide immediate solutions or feedback to farmers.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is the fifth largest pepper grower in the world, producing approximately 31,000 tonnes from 29,614 farmers, of which 98 per cent of them are in Sarawak.

“Without our farmers, Malaysia will not rank fifth as the world’s leading producer of pepper commodities. Sarawak pepper has not only gained a good reputation but is also accepted as the premium pepper in the world market. Its reputation has attract pepper growers from other countries to visit the state and learn more about its cultivation,” Mah said at the launching of MPB’s 10th anniversary celebration and Pepper Festival 2017 here yesterday.

He said Malaysia is expected to achieve a total area of 17,100 hectares of pepper production by end of this year, compare to 16,768 hectares in 2016.

In 2016, Malaysia exported RM490 million (12,100 tonnes) worth of pepper-based products to Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

The same products were also exported to other continents in Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand.

Mah added that the average monthly income for pepper planters in 2016 was RM2,127, taking into account the average area of pepper estate owned by each farmer is about 0.2 hectares.

“This is the highest income compared to other agricultural activities. This shows that pepper farming is capable of generating income for smallholders if it is cultivated wisely, patiently and diligently.

“On the government’s part, we will continue to provide assistance in terms of agricultural inputs and other aids as continuous effort by the to ease the burden faced by small pepper farmers due to the rising cost of production.

Mah added that under the RMK-11,the ministry has allocated RM40.9 million for the purpose of building the National Pepper Industry Development Centre in Semenggoh, which is currently being implemented.

With the centre, it will help MPB to intensify and strengthen the country’s pepper industry’s research and development (R&D) activities as well as boost the country’s position in the pepper industry to be more competitive and sustainable globally.