Malaysian Pepper Board to introduce mini estate plantations to boost planters’ output
KUCHING (Aug 25): The Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) will engage small-time holders to look into the introduction of mini estate plantations to help boost productivity in the country, said Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.
The Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister said the majority of pepper planters are small-time holders and mini estates should come with a plantation area of 1,000 acres.
“We want to classify plantation areas of 1,000 acres as mini estates. At the moment, all are smallholders running individually. They don’t have the capacity (to expand) and their financial means are limited.
“It is difficult for them to invest for replanting and the use of technology. This is where the board can facilitate to help them with a better plantation system,” she told a press conference after re-launching Saraspice Sdn Bhd at the Icom Square here.
Zuraida pointed out the management of pepper plantations in the country must be given a new approach to see more productions and monitor pepper quality.
She said pepper of higher quality can fetch a higher price.
According to her, the demand for pepper is there and the country needs to reach out and supply.
She noted that the value of one tonne of ground pepper of premium quality can be up to RM75,000.
Zuraida said Sarawak’s pepper is very well-known in the global market.
“It is recognised during my trip in the international global tour. We showed samples of our pepper and they recognised it as quality pepper,” she said.
She pointed out that Malaysia recorded an annual export of RM650 million worth of pepper, which was about 30,000 metric tonnes of ground pepper.
“We can go double or triple or even four or five times more, just that we need a little bit more of housekeeping and enhance our machinery so that we can go over high speed to cater for the orders and the delivery being put to us,” she said.
At present, there are 7,700 hectares of pepper plantations in the country, 70 per cent of which produce black pepper and the rest white pepper, she said.
“So now they are going to get planters to produce more white pepper with better value.”
On a separate issue, Zuraida said the country as a whole required some 250,000 plantation workers to keep the oil palm industry going.
With the issues of foreign workers recruitment solved, she said more foreign workers are coming into the country in a systematic and smooth manner since early this month.
“Plantations are picking up and workers from Indonesia are coming in,” she said.
She, however, could not provide the exact figure on the foreign workers being brought into the country.
Among those present were Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Willie Mongin, Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development (Modernisation of Agriculture) Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail and Saraspice Sdn Bhd chairperson Voon Shiak Ni.