Challenges Faced by White Pepper in Bangka Belitung, Sustaining Its Unique Legacy
White pepper, a renowned commodity of Bangka Belitung (Babel), Indonesia, is facing a decline in production and land area due to various factors, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the low global market price.
The availability of pepper in Babel has decreased each year, pushing pepper farmers to shift their focus to tin mining and palm oil plantations. To address this issue, collaborative efforts are required to improve the pepper trading system and increase the price of white pepper in local and international markets.
The Pepper Management, Development, and Marketing Agency (BP3L) of Bangka Belitung Islands, along with the local government, the Ministry of Trade, and the International Pepper Community (IPC), aims to establish a pepper trading system that encourages farmers to continue cultivating pepper. By implementing such a system, Bangka Belitung can become a determinant of pepper prices in Indonesia, similar to other countries with established trading systems.
The Acting Governor of Bangka Belitung, Suganda Pandapotan Pasaribu, emphasizes the importance of immediate discussions among pepper business actors, urging them to prioritize collective benefits over personal interests. The local government is also actively supporting farmers by providing superior seeds, technological equipment, and organic fertilizers to boost production and reduce costs.
It is crucial to preserve pepper cultivation in Bangka Belitung to prevent further shifts towards tin and palm oil commodities. Farmers are reminded not to be enticed by the temporary profits offered by the mining sector, as it results in a loss of livelihood in the long run.
By maintaining the price of pepper and establishing a sustainable trading system, Bangka Belitung can ensure the economic prosperity of its people and uphold the reputation of white pepper as the “King of Spice” from the region.
Photo: Christina Rumpf – Unsplash