No floor or ceiling price for pepper now, says Willie

Datuk Willie Mongin

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Oct 8: The government has no plans to impose a floor price or a ceiling price for pepper as the industry is now operating at profitable returns.

Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister II Datuk Willie Mongin took note that during the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s reign, the pepper price went down to around RM4 to RM5.

“However today, the price has increased up to RM17 to RM18 for black pepper and around RM28.50 for white pepper.

“For the pepper farmers to be at a profitable level, they can at least overcome the average production cost which is RM10.20.

“This means, when they are operating above the RM10.20 price, they are making a profit,” he said at a press conference held at Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) headquarters here today.

He also explained that another reason was due to the International Pepper Community (IPC) where Malaysia is among the pepper-producing countries.

“In this IPC, we must not impose the floor price because if we do that, this will create an intense competition with the other countries where, as of now, Malaysia does not have the capability to compete.

“For instance, Vietnam has a large stock of pepper and they are able to sell pepper at a price lower than RM10. When they throw the produce to the market, do you think the people would buy our pepper capped at RM10 or theirs (which is below RM10)?” he questioned.

At the same time, Willie said his ministry is committed and ready to change towards implementing 100 per cent digital operations in agricultural commodities to ensure continuity of the economic sectors’ chain of operations post Covid-19 pandemic.

“The MPB has expanded the use of digital applications such as the EPekebun Database System, E-Grading System and Pepper Permit; E-SME system and various mobile applications such as E-Guide Lada, NutriLada, LadaGo and also Dr Lada.

“All these systems and applications are developed not only to support the activities and services provided to the stakeholders of the pepper industry as well as the public, but also to facilitate service matters to customers,” he added.

He further said the direction of digitization in the agricultural commodities sector will also focus among others on creating a comprehensive repository of application systems, online services and end to end (E2E); drafting the Ministry’s Communication and Information Technology (ICT) Digitization Plan, and optimizing resource sharing of either systems or expertise. — DayakDaily