Saraspice initiative to add zest to Sarawak pepper’s global brand

Willie (centre) presenting a Loyalty Service Award to MPB staff Norseman Sharkawi, witnessed by Philip (left).

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Dec 22: Sarawak’s famous black pepper is expected to gain further recognition worldwide thanks to an initiative by the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) to promote it globally.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Willie Mongin said the ministry through MPB has established a company, Saraspice Sdn Bhd (Saraspice) to promote and market Sarawak’s black pepper worldwide.

“Saraspice will be the main party to buy pepper from smallholders and promote it around the world.

“It will market the black pepper from Sarawak to around the world with new packaging and rebranding.

“Saraspice will also organise roadshows throughout the country to promote black pepper which is famous around the world,” he said in his speech prior to the presentation of Loyalty Service Awards and Excellence Service Awards to MPB staff at a hotel here today.

He cited Vietnam as a country which produced pepper of lower quality as compared to Sarawak’s, but its pepper has been marketed to around the world. Thus, he urged MPB staff to work hard and think outside the box to enable Sarawak’s pepper to gain more popularity.

Earlier, Willie said Saraspice was set up to develop the local pepper industry and assist smallholders.

He explained that the move to establish Saraspice will help to stabilise pepper prices and increase the demand for Sarawak pepper.

Willie added that MPB will provide support to pepper smallholders as high quality and premium pepper can fetch good prices which can provide lucrative returns to farmers.

On the allegation that Saraspice is monopolising the pepper industry, Willie clarified that the company is mandated to buy the pepper produced by smallholders at a reasonable price rather than compete against pepper dealers.

He explained that the move will prevent pepper smallholders from being marginalised and being taken advantage of by pepper dealers who act as middlemen and earn huge profits from marketing their products through exports.

Willie added the move will also provide healthy competition for pepper dealers as it would motivate pepper dealers to offer better prices to smallholders especially in different locations throughout Sarawak.

Willie (seated left) addressing questions from reporters during a press conference. Also seen is Philip (seated right).

On another note, Willie revealed domestic pepper consumption especially in the food processing industry is expected to increase by 2.7 per cent annually.

Thus, he said the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry will work together with MPB to encourage domestically produced goods in the food processing industry.

At the event, there were 16 MPB staff who received the Loyalty Service Award and 25 MPB staff who received the Excellence Service Award for their outstanding performance in 2019.

Among those present at the function were newly appointed MPB director Philip Gaweng, Sarawak Agriculture Department director Dr Alvin Chai who is also am MPB board member, MPB board member Baka Riden, National Kenaf and Tobacco Board member Paul Akiu Bandat. — DayakDaily