Sarawak must have its own pepper board to develop premium pepper industry, says minister

Pepper vines. (File photo by DayakDaily)

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 30: It is imperative to establish Sarawak’s own pepper board to accelerate the development of the premium pepper industry which raked in about RM1.98 billion from 2010 to 2020 for Sarawak.

According to Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, from 2010 to 2020, pepper contributed about RM2.2 billion or 0.2 per cent to the national Gross Domestic Product.

“From that contribution, more than 90 per cent was contributed by pepper from Sarawak. Pepper yield has improved from 4.4 metric tonnes per hectare to 6.4 metric tonnes per hectare over 2010-2020.

“This was driven by various research and development activities which focusing more on effective ways of planting and maintaining pepper farms as well as endless support from the government in terms of financial, knowledge and technological assistance for farmers in ensuring our pepper industry continues to grow,” said Dr Rundi when delivering his ministerial winding-up speech during the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

He said total export of Sarawak pepper in 2021 was 8,097 metric tonnes valued at RM151.2 million.

“In the third quarter of 2022, Sarawak pepper export value increased from RM102.0 million to RM136.5 million as compared to same quarter last year.

“The main destinations for Sarawak pepper exports are Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea,” said Dr Rundi.

He also told the august House that the current price of pepper is stable with an average price of RM13,300 per tonne for black pepper and RM23,300 per tonne for white pepper.

The price is expected to range from RM15,000 to RM17,000 per tonne for black pepper and RM25,000 to RM26,000 per tonne for white pepper in 2023.

“A recent survey revealed that almost 98 per cent of pepper is planted in Sarawak while the remaining two per cent is planted in West Malaysia and Sabah.

“In view of its importance to Sarawak’s economy and particularly to its current 37,484 pepper smallholders, it is vital for Sarawak to play a greater role in the pepper industry,” said Dr Rundi.

He thus advocated that Sarawak should establish its own pepper board. — DayakDaily