Whenever you sprinkle a pinch of pepper in your fried egg, you most likely 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 degree of vitamins, and chemical fertilizers are sometimes used to stretch farmers’ annual yield. To foster a much less chemical-intensive method, a workforce from WWF-Malaysia collaborates with farmers to equip them with various 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 virtually completely by Indigenous communities, the money crop sustains the livelihoods of round 15,000 residents of the Tune-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 unhealthy for nature — they harm individuals, too. The default pepper farming system incentivizes deforestation within the surrounding tropical rainforest, an ecosystem not solely important for the wellbeing of the group but in addition a haven for endangered species and a vital bulwark in opposition to the local weather disaster.
Think about a crop that thrives in fallow land, grows with out chemical fertilizer, and offers dependable revenue 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 mission empowers farmers to handle their pure sources in an environmentally-friendly method, and on the identical time enhance their livelihoods and existence,” mentioned Cynthia Chin, Challenge 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 most important pepper producing village within the space, Rumah Dagum is residence to longtime farmers however lacks direct entry to the market. WWF-Malaysia tailor-made their method to the distinctive wants of Rumah Dagum, constructing capability in pepper processing, storage, and advertising.
Rumah Peter has a youthful workforce with ample room to develop. The mission harnessed that potential by serving to 15 farmers to kickstart their farms. It additionally facilitated information sharing round natural practices in collaboration with the native Division of Agriculture and the Malaysian Pepper Board. The village goals to grow to be the primary licensed natural pepper farming group 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,” mentioned Peter Jabat, the Headman of Rumah Peter. “I hope we are able to set instance to the opposite longhouses in planting pepper in a sustainable approach.”