Mah: Gov't mulls aid for Sarawak pepper farmers

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal government will consider Malaysian Pepper Board’s proposal for a social safety net for Sarawak’s pepper farmers,” said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

“I’ve just visited Sarawak and I assure the 114,186 rubber and 23,505 pepper planters there that the Federal government is serious about looking after their welfare,” he told NST Business in a telephone interview today.

According to data from Malaysian Pepper Board, the average pricing of white pepper prices in the first half of this year have fallen by 37 per cent to RM30,898 per tonne from RM49,028 per tonne average, a year ago.

As for black pepper, the board noted for the first six months of this year compared to the previous year, the average pricing has also dropped 34 per cent from RM28,835 per tonne to RM19,071 per tonne.

“Rubber and pepper farmers in Sarawak form the biggest smallholdings in the country. The government is concerned that planters are facing falling prices,” he said.

From January until July, the Standard Malaysian Rubber (SMR 20) prices have plunged by 40 per cent to RM6.27 per kg from RM9.57 per kg.

“I know some 440,000 smallholders tending to rubber trees will not be able to tap the trees for latex as we approach the monsoon season at the end of the year,” he said.

“Rest assured, the 440,000 rubber smallholders across Malaysia will receive RM600 each, from November 2017 to January 2018, to help them tide over difficult times with falling prices and the year-end monsoon season,” he said.

Earlier today, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had told the Parliament some RM261 million, allocated under Budget 2017, will soon be distributed to rubber smallholders.






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