POSTED ON JULY 27, 2019, SATURDAY AT 12:05 AMNEWS, SARAWAK
Farmers gather at the MPB warehouse in Sarikei to sell their pepper.
SARIKEI: Local pepper farmers have been queuing at the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) warehouse here over the past two days to sell the commodity.
This occurred after they caught wind of the board’s decision to temporarily stop purchasing pepper from them, from July 26 till Aug 8 this year.
The farmers, mostly from Julau and Pakan, could be seen flocking to the warehouse where they could sell their pepper at a higher price than that offered by other local vendors.
According to a farmer who wished to remain anonymous, they did so to ensure that they would have money to purchase the fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides and other daily necessities.
“We have to wait till we manage to sell our pepper; or else, we either have to sell our pepper at lower prices to other vendors, or wait for two weeks in order to fetch better prices offered by MPB again,” he said, adding that the price for a kilogramme of pepper offered by MPB was about RM2 higher than that offered by other buyers.
According to another farmer from Julau, the farmers were selling in bulk as the higher price offered by MPB compared with those from other buyers could translate into hundreds or even thousands of ringgit.
Meanwhile, chairman of Pemansang Nembiak Rebak Baru (PNRB) Julau-Pakan chairman Tedong Chakaw @ Jamal Abdullah, who came to monitor the situation at the MPB godown on Thursday, described MPB’s decision to temporarily stop purchasing pepper as ‘untimely’.
“As the June-to-August period is normally harvesting season for pepper, the farmers have to clear their old stock during this period not only to provide new space for new harvest, but also to convert it (old stock) into incomes.
“They need money to maintain their farms, feed their families, furnish their cars, or (settle) house loans and other expenses,” he said.
Tedong viewed the MPB’s decision, which was made due to insufficient storage space at all MPB warehouses nationwide, as ‘not acceptable’ in that the board should have come up with a contingency plan to address the problem.
“The MPB should be managed by those with good knowledge of the pepper industry, preferably Sarawakians,” he suggested.
Tedong also called upon the government to intervene and look for a solution which would not hurt the pepper farmers and the industry.
He disclosed that he had sent a letter via email to the Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok, with copies forwared to Julau MP Larry Sng, who is also MPB Chairman, as well as the Chief Minister’s Office.