PAKAN: Local pepper farmers are urged to increase production to meet increasing demand from the global market.
Malaysian Pepper Marketing Board (PMB) chairman, Tan Sri William Mawan said that while it was important to maintain the high quality of Sarawak pepper, it was equally vital for the state to increase production.
As a major producer of pepper, Sarawak could play a commanding role in determining its price, he added when launching the ‘Jom Tanam Lada’ programme at Rumah George Chungut in Nanga Nansang here yesterday
The programme hopes to encourage pepper farmers to increase the acreage of their holding with a view to increase production.
PMB had held similar programmes in Sri Aman, Betong, Lahad Datu and in Peninsular Malaysia, he told a press conference after the launching ceremony.
He added that PMB had set a target of at least 20,000 hectares of pepper farm in the country by the end of the 11th Malaysia Plan (2020).
There are about 17,000ha of pepper farms in the country, comprising 16,000ha in Sarawak and the rest in Sabah and Johor.
Pakan, which has about 2,000 ha of pepper farms involving 5,800 farmers is the country’s biggest producer of pepper, followed by Julau and others, said Mawan who is also Pakan assemblyman and Saratok MP.
Based on the 2016 statistics, Pakan produced 3,490mt of pepper worth about RM108 million, he said without disclosing the production in other areas.
Mawan said PMB would also look into ways to prevent farmers from abandoning the crop due to the slump in price, adding the matter had been brought up to the attention of the government.
The function yesterday which was attended by about 2,000 people also witnessed the presentation of various awards to successful pepper farmers and assistance under the New Pepper Farmers Assistance Scheme and pepper farmers under the 1AZAM programme.
Pemanca Edward Laden leads the recipients by bagging Anugerah Usahawan Peraih Lada; Langi Sliong (Anugerah Usahawan Keratan Lada, while 16 others received Active Smallholder Pepper Farm awards.
Four new pepper farmers received assistance under the new Pepper Farmers Scheme and 10 received assistance under 1AZAM pepper planting programme.