MPB, WWF-Malaysia ink MOU to develop pesticide-free, sustainable pepper farms in Sarawak

Hajah Zuraida (fifth left) witnessed the MOU signing and exchange between Lim (fifth right) and Jenny (fourth left).

KUCHING, July 28: The World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) and the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) have signed a collaboration agreement that will pave the way for improved co-management of natural resources and pepper farm lands with local communities, particularly in Song, Sarawak.

According to a press release issued today by WWF-Malaysia, the three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) will also promote, strengthen, and develop collaborative efforts between both organisations in the research and development of pepper farming by local communities in Sarawak.

The MOU was signed during the Malaysia International Agricommodity Expo and Summit (MIACES) at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur, in the presence of the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin.

Meanwhile, WWF-Malaysia executive director Sophia Lim, who is also the chief executing officer (CEO), represented WWF-Malaysia, while MPB was represented by its deputy director-General Jenny George.

Under this MOU, MPB’s technical expertise on pepper farming (both regular and organic) is drawn upon, and hence the community partners of the project will benefit from capacity building on technical aspects of pepper-planting.

The target communities are Rumah Dagum and Rumah Peter, Ulu Katibas in Song, Sarawak.

MPB will also extend support to provide pepper-grading and sorting machineries where feasible.

The collaboration also paves way for both organisations to explore international certification or good agriculture practices schemes for pepper, and help market pepper from local communities.

“Firstly, it facilitates and strengthens the communities’ livelihood option. At the same time, it strives to minimise adverse impact to the environment through good management practices, pesticide-free options, and long-term feasibility of organically grown pepper,” she said in a statement.

She added that pepper farming is Sarawak’s heritage, and that Sarawak pepper remains in the top ten best peppers in the world.

“It is farmed by true-blue Sarawakians on their family farms, nestled amidst forest with functioning ecosystems. This is a scenario of people, planet, and profit that is perfectly encapsulated by the end goal of this project,” noted.

Rumah Dagum and Rumah Peter communities were carefully selected by WWF-Malaysia for the sustainable pepper project after an assessment of 92 villages in Song-Katibas region.

This project is one of WWF-Malaysia’s initiatives advocating for a green economy that promotes environmentally-friendly resource use and production. — DayakDaily