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MPB and WWF-Malaysia Ink MoU Towards Sustainability: Developing community-based organic, pesticide-free and sustainable pepper farms in Sarawak

Kuala Lumpur, 28 July 2022:  World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) and Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) signed a collaboration agreement that will pave the way for better co-management of natural resources and pepper farm lands with local communities, particularly those in Song, Sarawak. 

The three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) which takes effect on 28 July 2022, will also promote, strengthen and develop collaborative efforts between both organisations in the research and development of pepper farming by local communities in Sarawak. 

The MoU signing ceremony took place during the Malaysia International Agricommodity Expo and Summit held at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre here, in the presence of Yang Berhormat Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities. WWF-Malaysia Executive Director / CEO Sophia Lim represented WWF-Malaysia, while MPB was represented by its Deputy Director-General Jenny George.

Under this MoU, MPB’s technical expertise on pepper farming (both regular and organic) is drawn upon, and hence the community partners of the project will benefit from capacity building on technical aspects of pepper-planting. The target communities are Rumah Dagum and Rumah Peter, Ulu Katibas in Song, Sarawak. MPB will also extend support to provide pepper-grading and sorting machineries where feasible. 
WWF-Malaysia has been working with these two communities since 2018. This year, the project received much needed funding support from the Ministry of Finance. WWF-Malaysia will liaise, collaborate and plan activities on the ground with MPB, as well as monitor the progress of the project. 

The collaboration also paves way for both organisations to explore international certification or good agriculture practices schemes for pepper, and help market pepper from local communities.                                                                                                 
Lim said this project is important in that it seeks to demonstrate a few key points that aligns with WWF’s vision and mission to conserve nature for people and the planet. 

“Firstly, it facilitates and strengthens the communities’ livelihood option. At the same time, it strives to minimise adverse impact to the environment through good management practices, pesticide-free options and looks at long-term feasibility towards organically grown pepper,” she said in a statement. 

“Pepper farming is Sarawak’s heritage. Sarawak pepper remains in the top 10 best peppers in the world. It is farmed by true-blue Sarawakians in their family farms, nestled amidst forest with functioning ecosystems. This is a scenario of people, planet and profit that is perfectly encapsulated by the end goal of this project,” she added. 

Rumah Dagum and Rumah Peter communities were carefully selected by WWF-Malaysia for the sustainable pepper project after an assessment of 92 villages in Song-Katibas region. This project is one of WWF-Malaysia’s initiatives advocating for a green economy that promotes environmentally-friendly resource use and production. The largest pepper producing village in the area, Rumah Dagum is home to longtime farmers but lacks direct access to the market. WWF-Malaysia tailors their approach to the unique needs of Rumah Dagum, building capacity in pepper processing, storage, and marketing.

Rumah Peter has a younger workforce with room to grow. The project harnesses that potential by helping 15 farmers to kickstart their farms. It also facilitates knowledge sharing around organic practices in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the MPB. The village aims to become the first certified organic pepper farming community in Malaysia.

WWF-Malaysia Executive Director / CEO Sophia Lim (seated right) signing the MoU on behalf of the organisation, while MPB was represented by its Deputy Director-General Jenny George. Yang Berhormat Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (fourth from left) witnessed the signing of the MoU, as other distinguished guests looked on. Photo © Zora Chan / WWF-Malaysia

Yang Berhormat Datuk Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (fifth from left) witnessed the MoU signing and exchange between WWF-Malaysia Executive Director / CEO Sophia Lim and MPB Deputy Director-General Jenny George (fourth from left).  Photo (c) Zora Chan / WWF-Malaysia

An aerial view of a pepper farm that is surrounded by healthy secondary forests. 
Photo © Mazidi Abdul Ghani / WWF-Malaysia.

A capacity building session was held at Rumah Peter in collaboration with MPB recently.
Photo © Grace Lim / WWF-Malaysia 

Freshly picked pepper berries. Photo © Grace Lim / WWF-Malaysia

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