KUCHING: The Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) does not simply reject pepper brought to its office by planters.
However, MPB will only accept and buy quality pepper from genuine pepper planters based on approved grades to ensure that Sarawak Pepper as a brand will always be maintained as a hallmark of quality, its chairman Tan Sri William Mawan said.
He also explained that MPB, established in 2007 to replace Pepper Marketing Board, is not merely involved in buying and selling pepper as its functions have been expanded to other roles such as regulating, supervising and developing the local pepper industry.
“We reject on the basis of quality; most of these rejected cases because the pepper is not properly cleaned and dried. What we do, we ask them to bring them back, clean first before they bring back to us.
“It is not a must (or obligatory) for farmers to sell pepper to us. Buying pepper is now just part of our function, to help stabilise prices in the market. MPB’s share in the market is only 20 per cent, while the private sector comprising dealers and importers control about 80 per cent of the total export,” he said in an interview.
He believed that many people still thought that MPB, an agency under the federal Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities, is like its predecessor Pepper Marketing Board when the fact is that its roles are much bigger nowadays.
“Don’t blame us for rejecting (your pepper). We are only helping to give you an extra option, but we at MPB must maintain a high level of quality to ensure continued marketability of Sarawak Pepper, which is well known worldwide. The quality of our pepper distinguishes us from other pepper-producing countries,” said Mawan.
Meanwhile, MPB director general Dr Harry Entebang said the board’s grading system is ISO-certified and they have testers who determine pepper quality based on density, texture and so on.
As an example, he pointed out that MPB cannot accept mouldy pepper berries because the mould would spread to other berries.
On allegations that MPB had limited funds for purchase of pepper from farmers, Harry said this was not true, stressing that MPB like any other agencies had to follow government procedures.
“Normally we would ask the farmers if they agree to sell to us even if it would take days for payment to be disbursed due to procedures. If they agree, we take their pepper but if they disagree, then they can go to dealers downtown.
“Sometimes, it would take longer to pay because of transmitting of funds, and to remit funds to remote places may take a few more working days,” he explained.
He assured all that MPB will always take care of the interests of pepper farmers, most of whom plant the commodity on their own land.
Source/Sumber : Borneo Post