SIBU, Jan 6 — The Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) has partnered with a local university to conduct research to produce fertiliser for pepper plants using local raw materials.
Deputy Prime Minister who is also Plantation and Commodities Minister, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, said it involves a pilot project of pepper cultivation using organic farming methods, which is being carried out in Song in Kapit division, about 110 kilometres from here.
“If this pilot project is successful, it will reduce dependence on chemical fertiliser and, at the same time, reduce the pepper production costs that smallholders have to bear,” he told a press conference after visiting the Sibu MPB today.
He added that the high price of fertiliser in the market had become a constraint for smallholders to continue working on the commodity.
In the meantime, he said that the total pepper cultivation area in the Sibu division is 494.83 hectares, with 3,402 smallholders.
Fadillah said throughout 2022, the Sibu MPB had distributed aid totalling RM7.5 million to 346 eligible smallholders, and of that amount, 96 people received assistance under the New Pepper Planting Scheme (STLB) amounting to RM3.3 million, while 250 people are beneficiaries of the Mature Pepper Planting Scheme (STLM) amounting to RM4.2 million.
During the same period, the Sibu MPB Pepper Processing Centre processed 928.67 metric tonnes of black and white pepper for export purposes.
It also received the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) certificate from the Health Ministry after meeting the requirements for the implementation of the HACCP system for the Steam Treated Black Pepper/ White Pepper products.
Meanwhile, the Sibu MPB Analytical Laboratory has successfully obtained MS ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accreditation for its analytical capability and quality management.
Fadillah said the government will continue to find ways to maintain the pepper commodity so that it can continue to be sold as a premium product at the international level.
“We are in the fifth position globally (in terms of pepper production). Even so, our peppers are always sought after due to their quality. (Therefore), we need to plan our pepper production to meet the demand of the premium and general markets,” he added.