By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Mar 1: In view of the declining prices of commodities such as oil palm and pepper, the Ministry for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development is encouraging farmers to diversify their crops.
One potential crop local farmers can develop due to its ever-increasing demand is coffee, said its minister, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
Malaysia has been importing some 100,000 tonnes of coffee annually, while its prices have been very stable over the years.
As such, Uggah said the state government, which is in the midst of making Sarawak a nett food exporter, is investing some RM3 million this year to support the coffee industry.
“Sarawak has big potential for coffee. At the moment, Malaysia has 2,587.5 hectares of coffee plantation in total, with harvested area of 2,076.2 hectares able to produce 8,109.2 tonnes of fresh beans per year.
“The state with the largest coffee plantation is Johor with 1,008 hectares, followed by Sabah. For Sarawak, we have 247 hectares of planted areas and 21.2 hectares harvestable, which produces 20.7 tonnes per year,” he told a press conference on the state’s first upcoming Borneo Coffee Symposium 2019, to be held on April 6 at the Old Court House Auditorium here.
In Sarawak, Uggah said coffee is planted between Miri and Limbang region. In Baram, a total of 1,280 trees are planted per hectare. Each tree produces an average of about 2kg of fresh beans, totalling 2,560kg of fresh beans per hectare yearly from Baram.
“This is a lot lower than the national average. Since we have a big potential, the state government has come up with a programme and is allocating RM3 million to support the coffee industry in Sarawak this year.
“We hope this programme will be able to enhance and develop the coffee industry in Miri, Limbang, Kuching, Mukah and Serian,” he said.
Uggah added that his ministry had identified several alternative crops with huge potential for the state. They are banana, pineapple, durian and now the state is looking into coffee and coconut.
“There is a steady increase of coffee planting in Sarawak. I think now due to the low price of industrial commodities like oil palm and pepper, we are looking towards crops diversification to boost the income of farmers.
“So, we hope with this Borneo Coffee Symposium, we will be more understanding on the coffee industry, especially in how to develop the coffee industry in Sarawak,” he said.
Uggah revealed that currently, coffee is priced between RM20 and RM30 per kilogram depending on quality and type.
He said the type of coffee being planted in Sarawak that has huge potential to be developed and made as popular as the common Arabica coffee is the Sarawak Liberica, which is very suitable for the state’s tropical climate.
“That’s why we are very thankful that Earthlings Coffee Workshop managing director Kenny Lee and his team managed to bring in this symposium into Kuching,” he said.
He hoped the symposium would give more insight to local farmers on the potential of coffee planting in Sarawak and encouraged them to participate in the symposium.
For more information on the Borneo Coffee Symposium, go to https://earthlings-coffee.com/borneo-coffee-symposium or email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011-10031208. — DayakDaily