ASEAN countries to focus on developing quality Pepper to tackle export market

Malaysia's pepper export is expected to jump to 15,000 tonnes this year from 12,199 tonnes worth RM490 million (US$116 million) last year, with Japan being its major pepper export destination.
Plantation and Commodity Industries Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the country’s pepper cultivation area could reach 17,100 hectares with a total production of 31,000 tonnes this year. He said Sarawak in East Malaysia is the main producer of pepper in the country.
Malaysia aims to be the top producer of quality pepper in the world. Presently, it ranks the 5th largest pepper producer behind Vietnam (top), Indonesia (2nd) and India (3rd). Sarawak pepper is however accepted as the premium pepper in the world market and its good reputation has brought regional planters to come to Sarawak to learn the state’s pepper cultivation techniques. Presently, there are 29,614 pepper farmers in Malaysia with 98% of them located in Sarawak.
Datuk Mah said, “Vietnamese planters want to come to Sarawak to learn how Sarawak produces such high quality pepper. We are not the biggest pepper producer – only 5th, but we want to be the best in terms of quality."
Meanwhile, Vietnam which is the largest pepper producer, is now encouraging farmers in the key growing areas of Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai to invest in large-scale high quality pepper production. The Agriculture & Rural Development Ministry will issue Production Unit Codes (PUCs) to areas that qualify to produce peppercorns for export, while at the same time provide technical assistance to farmers in food safety and brand creation. The ministry has also advised small-scale pepper growers to shift to other crops to avoid economic losses.
Vietnam exported 180,000 tonnes of pepper worth US$965 million in the first 9 months of 2017, up 22.2% in volume but down 19.6% in value compared to the same period last year. The country is home to about 130,000 hectares of pepper, mostly in the Central Highlands and the south-eastern region.
Indonesia, 2nd largest producer of pepper, recorded a 16.5% growth in exports to 24,460 tonnes for the first 8 months of 2017 compared to a year ago. In 2016, Indonesia produced 82,200 tonnes of pepper and exported 53,100 tonnes worth US$431.14 million. Pepper is mostly grown in the 5 provinces of Bangka Belitung, Lampung, South Sumatra, East Kalimantan and South Sulawesi.