If you sprinkle a pinch of pepper in your fried egg, you in all probability don’t take into consideration the place it got here from. For the Indigenous Iban communities of Rumah Peter and Rumah Dagum, nestled amid the plush forests of Malaysian Borneo, pepper isn’t just a condiment—it’s a livelihood, a local weather protector, and a preserver of biodiversity.
These communities have grown pepper because the mid-1800s. Standard pepper farming practices require a excessive stage of vitamins, and chemical fertilizers are sometimes used to stretch farmers’ annual yield. To foster a much less chemical-intensive strategy, a crew from WWF-Malaysia collaborates with farmers to equip them with different strategies for pepper cultivation.
Positioned within the coronary heart of Malaysian Borneo, the state of Sarawak produces 98% of the pepper in Malaysia. Sarawak black peppercorns are world famend for his or her fragrant vary. Planted nearly totally by Indigenous communities, the money crop sustains the livelihoods of round 15,000 residents of the Track-Katibas area within the rural upland of the state.
Some typical peppercorn farming practices have been discovered to degrade soil high quality, erode the panorama, and pollute the water. These ecological impacts aren’t simply dangerous for nature — they damage folks, too. The default pepper farming system incentivizes deforestation within the surrounding tropical rainforest, an ecosystem not solely important for the wellbeing of the neighborhood but additionally a haven for endangered species and a crucial bulwark towards the local weather disaster.
Think about a crop that thrives in fallow land, grows with out chemical fertilizer, and gives dependable earnings for Indigenous peoples. That’s pepper.
In collaboration with the communities of Rumah Dagum and Rumah Peter, WWF-Malaysia launched a pilot program to equip pepper farmers with the instruments to have interaction in additional sustainable practices. “The undertaking empowers farmers to handle their pure assets in an environmentally-friendly method, and on the identical time enhance their livelihoods and life,” stated Cynthia Chin, Mission Supervisor for the WWF-Malaysia Sarawak Conservation Programme.
The 2 communities have been fastidiously chosen after an evaluation of 92 villages within the area. The biggest pepper producing village within the space, Rumah Dagum is house to longtime farmers however lacks direct entry to the market. WWF-Malaysia tailor-made their strategy to the distinctive wants of Rumah Dagum, constructing capability in pepper processing, storage, and advertising and marketing.
Rumah Peter has a youthful workforce with ample room to develop. The undertaking harnessed that potential by serving to 15 farmers to kickstart their farms. It additionally facilitated data sharing round natural practices in collaboration with the native Division of Agriculture and the Malaysian Pepper Board. The village goals to change into the primary licensed natural pepper farming neighborhood in Malaysia.
“WWF has supported us with pepper cuttings, agricultural instruments and capability constructing in order that we’re well-equipped with the correct strategy of pepper planting and in a position to nurture pepper cuttings on our personal,” stated Peter Jabat, the Headman of Rumah Peter. “I hope we will set a great instance to the opposite longhouses in planting pepper in a sustainable means.”