KUCHING, Sept 8 — The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities through the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) is formulating various strategies to elevate the country’s pepper agri-commodity sector.

Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said Malaysia, which currently ranks as one of the world’s top pepper producers after Vietnam, Indonesia and India, needed to improve the quality of the commodity and products to remain competitive.

“We need to focus on products that can generate higher incomes. Apart from being able to produce pepper, product branding in this industry is also important so that Malaysia is known for producing premium products,” she told the media after her official visit to the MPB headquarters here today.

She said the overall market value of the Malaysian white pepper had increased to more than RM60 million during the first six months of this year from RM40 million last year.

“This was due to the lower pepper production and it is seen as an advantage in generating income for the country,” she said.

Zuraida said the MPB played a role in regulating the pepper market in Malaysia as well as ensuring that the pepper business is conducted in accordance with the law to ensure that the quality of pepper products exported comply with the grade that is more competitive in the international market.

She said the establishment of MPB’s subsidiary company, Saraspice Sdn Bhd, which is scheduled to begin operating this October, would help to further strengthen the pepper industry at various levels.

The company is also expected to become a superior supplier of quality Sarawak pepper to meet the domestic and international market demands.

“Besides that, various programmes and schemes have also been implemented for the benefit of pepper smallholders to boost the country’s commodities industry,” she added. — Bernama