The Borneo Post (Sabah)
MPIC happy with commodities industry
LUMPUR: The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry (MPIC) is highly encouraged by the improved overall performance of the country’s commodities industry last year, deputy minister Datuk Willie Mongin said.
“This positive sign has given the ministry encouragement and further motivation to work more actively in stimulating activities at both the upstream and downstream levels,” he said during RTM’s Bicara Naratif programme titled “State of Emergency: The Commodities Sector Keeps on Producing for the Country’s Economy” aired on Wednesday night.
It was reported that the country’s agricommodity sector recorded a trade value of RM191.7 billion last year, up 14 per cent from RM168.1 billion in 2019.
Describing the achievement as something to be very proud of, he said MPIC was thankful since this took place at a time when the country was grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was a blessing in disguise that during the difficult period, we nonetheless managed to increase exports and achieve RM192 billion. This was followed more recently by the crude palm oil price hi ing (a record of) RM4,270 per tonne (on April 9). We have also witnessed a rise in the prices of other commodities such as rubber, pepper, cocoa and timber,” he added.
He noted that black pepper price jumped to RM11 per kilogramme (kg) from RM5 per kg last year while the price of white pepper went up to RM17.50 per kg.
Willie said the main factors contributing to the be er performance included ventures into new markets in East Asia, Middle East and Africa, which led to higher demand and be er prices for the available supply.
He said efforts must be made to ensure that good commodity prices enjoyed today could be maintained and even improved in the future.
“That is the ministry’s wish. We are always devising strategies and looking at various aspects in order to improve the prices of the country’s commodities,” he said.
“As an example, for the pepper industry, we have introduced a cooperative system and a marketing company Saraspice
Sdn Bhd to help market black pepper to ensure be er market prices,” he said.
Saraspice was formed by the Malaysian Pepper Board on Sept 12, 2019, to undertake fully commercial activities to spur the development of downstream pepper products and pepper marketing activities.
Willie said in 2020, pepper exports saw an encouraging growth of 17 per cent to RM121 million. The key markets included Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and the European Union.
“Previously, the country’s pepper prices were so low that it dampened the spirit of smallholders in operating their farms. The current higher prices, as well as the government’s initiative to promote new planting projects, subsidy and agricultural input assistance, have somewhat lessened the smallholders’ burden and encouraged them to continue their operations,” he said.
The country’s pepper cultivation area is spread over 8,022 hectares involving 38,378 smallholders, of whom 94 per cent are from Sarawak. — Bernama