KUCHING, March 1 — Sarawak has the potential to become a major regional coffee producer, especially the Liberica variety, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said today.
He said the Liberica coffee bean variety such as MKL5, MKL6 and MKL7 have been identified as having viable commercial potential.
He said Sarawak, apart from its higher temperatures and tropical climate, has an abundance of fertile land for agriculture.
“My ministry is also committed to assisting the research endeavours and the systematic integration of clusters of farmers for the imminent progress of Sarawak’s coffee industry,” Uggah, who is also the state minister of agriculture, native land and regional development, said.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the Borneo Coffee Symposium next month, he said his ministry has identified the highlands of Ulu Baram, including Long Lelang, Long Seridan, Bario and Long Bunga for further development as coffee growing areas.
Quoting a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), he said nearly 70 per cent of the coffee trade derives from Arabica beans, followed by 28 per cent Robusta beans and the remaining two per cent, Liberica and Excelsa.
“In Malaysia, only two variants of the beans, Liberica and Robusta, are planted,” he said, pointing out that this is the big gap that his ministry has identified and can be fulfilled.
“We wish to see our local Liberica coffee beans being uplifted and to create a new norm instead of reliance or preference towards other popular alternatives,” he said.
Uggah said the state government has allocated RM2.15 million last year and RM3.15 million this year for coffee cultivation, especially in Miri, Limbang, Mukah and Kuching.
He said last year Sarawak produced 146 metric tonnes of coffee from 268 hectares, mainly from Miri Division.
“There is a steady increase in acreage for coffee planting over the years,” he said, adding that in 2014, 193 hectares were recorded and last year, 268 hectares in total.
On the symposium to be held here from April 6 to 7, Uggah hoped that renowned coffee scientists, researchers, experienced coffee farmers and estate owners will share their knowledge on sustainable coffee cultivation.
He said the symposium will be a stepping stone for greater things to come in the state’s coffee industry.