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Use of IoT and new farming technologies can boost Sarawak's pepper industry yield

Publish date: Fri, 23 Feb 2024, 11:35 PM

BETONG: Sarawak Deputy Premier, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, is giving his backing to the introduction of new technologies into the state's pepper industry as trials have shown that they could double the commodity's harvest.

At a pepper industry development talk at Rumah Joseph Sanda in Jambu Kerampak in Layar today, Uggah said he had been informed about the new technologies, that had been trialled, have shown to increase the current harvest average of two kg per vine harvest to four kg per vine.

The Malaysian Peppers Board has been undertaking pilot projects to apply Internet of Things (IoT) and new farming techniques, like fertigation, at its research centres in Semengok near Kuching and in the central Sarawak town of Sarikei.

Sarawak is the country's largest pepper producing state.

It has 38,000 planters cultivating 8,015 hectares of land.

The harvest last year was 31,900 metric ton.

The new technologies, Uggah added, could be a lifeline for the pepper planters "who for a long time have depended on the commodity for income".

"It had provided, and will continue to provide, the planters with income for everyday expenses," he said.

With the industry now looking attractive and lucrative, he said it would also help lure new farmers, especially the young ones, to want to plant the commodity.

"We want to encourage more new young blood to be planters," he said.

Uggah also disclosed that the state agency tasked with drawing up Betong's development plans, the Betong Division Development Agency (BDDA), of which he is the chairperson, has allocated RM3 million to further develop the industry in the region.

He added that this financial allocation was intended to complement the funds provided by the Peppers Board and the Department of Agriculture.

Uggah, whose last position in the federal cabinet was as the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, which he held until 2016 before he returned to the state to take up the appointment as Deputy Premier, also called on MPB to draw up a mechanism to shore up the pepper price when the price is on a down slide.

"It's a protection system for the farmers against falling prices," he said.

The Betong Division is one of the state's biggest pepper producers.

It has 2,338 farmers cultivating an area of 659.7 hectares.

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