Sarawak to boost coffee production

KUCHING: Coffee production in Sarawak which currently stands at 256kg per ha is low, compared with the average national yield of 3.9 tonne per ha.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this low yield per hectare was due to many factors, including logistics, environment, type of beans planted and lack of expertise.

?For many years, Sarawak relied on importing green coffee beans from other countries and yet Borneo Island itself is strategically located within the coffee belt,? said Uggah who is also the modernisation of agriculture, native land and regional development minister.

Malaysia has a total of 2,587.5ha planted with coffee.

Johor produces the most coffee (6,939 tonnes), followed by Sabah (1,075 tonnes). Sarawak only produced 20.7 tonnes in 2017.

In Sarawak, coffee is planted predominantly in the Miri and Limbang region.

In Baram, Uggah said 1,280 trees were planted per hectare and each tree produced two kg of fresh beans.

?The fresh to dry ratio is said to be 10:1. Therefore the dry beans produced per hectare in Baram is currently 256 kg per ha, which is very low.

?Therefore, we hope that more experts in the field can come together and assist us in providing professional expertise to improve the yield,? he added.

The text of Uggah?s speech was read by the Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Ministery?s permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik at the launch of the Borneo Coffee Symposium organised by Earthlings Coffee Workshop and the Malaysia Coffeology Collective at the Old Court House.

Uggah said, in 1982, coffee seedlings were distributed to selected farmers in Serian district.

However, along the way other crops such as oil palm and rubber started gaining favour in place of coffee.

?The coffee industry has faced multiple threats and these obstacles will be acknowledged and thoroughly discussed at the symposium.

?Issues need to be heeded and we want to implement effective solutions to grow this industry,? Uggah said, adding that his ministry, had allocated RM72.15 million for coffee planting last year and had raised it to RM3.15 million this year.

?The allocation is spread across Miri, Limbang, Kuching and Mukah. We hope to put Sarawak on the coffee map, since it sits on the coffee belt,? he said, adding that other measures taken included looking into socio-economic benefits for farmers in crop diversification, moving from subsistence to specialty production, recognition of farmer identity and their contribution to labour and identity of state too.

?We believe in the agricultural potential of coffee here, which could allow our smallholders to find a new source of income and to diversify their existing crops.

?Besides, we would like to promote the limitless potential of Sarawak?s own homegrown coffee, particularly the Sarawak Liberica, which should be made known to the rest of the coffee drinking world,? he added.

Source: New Straits Times

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