Willie (back row centre) with Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) director general Stanley Liew Joon Kong (back row second right) and other dignitaries on the back row having a photograph taken with the recipients of the pepper planting aid. Photos: Ramidi Subari

By Nur Shazreena Ali & Sarah Hafizah Chandra

KUCHING: A total of RM16.11 million from the Smallholders Agricultural Input Assistance under the Pre-Prihatin 2020 Economic Stimulus Package has been channelled to 30,000 pepper smallholders nationwide.

Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Willie Mongin said the assistance, which provides farmers with a voucher amounting to RM3,000 for a hectare, was to help smallholders increase their income and overcome the challenges as well as encourage them to expand their pepper farms.

“The ministry has allocated RM3 million to develop 115 hectares for new pepper plantations nationwide. The assistance, managed by the Malaysia Pepper Board (MPB), would be able to assist existing smallholders to expand their pepper farms and to attract young people to venturing into planting pepper commercially.

“I hope MPB can expedite the distribution process to smallholders,” he said at the presentation of assistance at Sarawak MPB here on Monday (Sept 28).

Willie said there was a need for MPB to double its efforts to convince smallholders to explore and expand pepper cultivation.

“Besides providing comprehensive training courses, the board has to find ways to mitigate the low selling price of pepper faced by smallholders.”

Willie (third left) talking to the recipients of the pepper planting aid after the presentation ceremony, while Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) director general Stanley Liew Joon Kong (third right) looks on.