KUCHING: The Pepper Marketing Board will become the Malaysian Pepper Board on Jan 1 with a widened scope of duties to further develop the pepper industry.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin said the new board would take care of upstream and downstream activities and undertake research and development (R&D) on pepper.
Its functions will include R&D on new pepper varieties with better yield, introduction of effective agricultural practices for pepper smallholders, processing and marketing.
It will also look at diversifying products from pepper to create a bigger market.
“If pepper is just for food or dinner use only, the market will be limited. If we increase the range of products that can come from the pepper berry, it will mean that world consumption will increase, and that will mean bigger demand for pepper.
“This will in turn mean either higher prices or increased pepper cultivation, and our farmers will have more opportunities,” Chin told reporters after launching the board’s pepper grinding plant at its headquarters here yesterday.
He said pharmaceutical and perfume-related products were among those with the potential to be developed from pepper.
Chin also said the government had allocated RM84.55mil for the pepper sector to increase productivity and the income of pepper smallholders in Sarawak.
Six areas in Sungai Asap, Betong, Serian, Sarikei, Suai-Niah and Lundu have been identified for pepper cluster-farming, to be implemented over the next five years.
These projects are expected to increase the country’s pepper production from the current 21,000 tonnes to more than 30,000 tonnes in 2010.
Malaysia is currently the world’s fifth biggest producer of pepper behind Vietnam, India, Brazil and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Pepper Marketing Board chairman Dr Jerip Susil said the new RM3.75mil grinding plant would increase the production of specialty processed pepper products for export.
The board’s specialty products include creamy white pepper, naturally clean black pepper, extra bold black pepper and dehydrated green pepper.