KUCHING (Nov 30): It is imperative that Sarawak establishes its own pepper board to accelerate the development of the premium pepper industry, said Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
He said a recent survey revealed that almost 98 per cent of pepper is planted Sarawak while the remaining two per cent is planted in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
“In view of its importance to Sarawak economy and particularly to its current 37,484 pepper smallholders, it is vital for Sarawak to play a greater role in the pepper industry,” he told the august House at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here today.
In his ministerial winding-up speech, Dr Rundi said pepper contributed about RM2.2 billion or 0.2 per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP) last year with more than 90 per cent 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 focused 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 the farmers in ensuring our pepper industry continues to grow,” he said.
He said the total export production 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 has increased from RM102.0 million to RM136.5 million as compared to the same quarter last year.
“The main destinations for Sarawak pepper export are Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea,” he said.
He pointed out 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 be ranging from RM15,000 to RM17,000 per tonne for black pepper and RM25,000 to RM26,000 per tonne for white pepper in 2023, he added.