Monday, July 29, 2013


LADA HITAM (Piper nigrum) or PEPPER is a tropical plant that produces the popular black and white peppercorns and ground pepper of commerce that have been used for many years as culinary spices or seasonings. There are 13,888 hectare of piper grown in Malaysia producing about 23,210 metric tones in 2012 especially in Sarawak.  This species is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. It has been used in Indian cooking since at least 2000 B. C. Today, it is commercially grown in a number of additional tropical areas including Malaysia, Malabar, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Philippines, Japan and the West Indies. It is not grown commercially in the U.S. This is a woody stemmed perennial evergreen vine that typically grows to 10-15' tall and as wide, but may reach 30' tall in its native habitat. Ovate, cordate, palmately-veined, dark green leaves (to 5-7" long) appear at the nodes on stout but flexible climbing stems. Tiny, apetulous, yellowish-green florets bloom in summer on spikes to 4 1/2" long that grow outward from the leaf stem joint. Florets are hermaphrodite but sometimes unisexual. Florets are followed by spherical fruits that ripen to red. They are harvested just as the first fruits begin to turn red (before fully ripe) and are then dried. Each fruit (peppercorn to 1/4" diameter) turns black after about three days of drying. Grinding the black peppercorns produces black pepper. White pepper is obtained when the fruits are allowed to turn red and fully ripen. The red outer covering is then removed and the remaining kernel ground. The best quality commercial pepper reportedly comes from Malabar. U.S. pepper supplies primarily come from Sumatra and Java. Spiciness of this pepper comes from piperine. This article in "Anim Agro Technology" I would like to share my knowledge 3 variety of pepper based on my study in Sarawak recently.

(1) Kuching Variety
Vigorous growth rates; ready in 3 years with a life span of 20 years. High yield of 6-7 kg of pepper/tree/year annually  It was one of the most popular variety in Malaysia. From my observation, this variety can be harvested in 5-6 rounds per year after planting.
  • Driage to Black Pepper: 33%
  • Driage to White Pepper: 24%
  • Chemical quality:
  • Piperine – 3.5%
  • Oleoresin – 11.0%
  • Volatile oil – 2.8%
  • Non-volatile oil – 7.9%
Preferred variety for creamy white pepper production
Widely planted in Sarawak and Johor by smallholders. This crop need posts to grow and the Gliricidia spp tree are new application for the crops. Care should be taken to avoid the following disease: Foot Rot, Black Berry, Fusarium wilt and Wrinkle Leaf. It need chemical to cure the disease.

(2) Semengok Aman Variety
Vigorous growth rates and normally are ready in 3 years with a lifespan of 20 years with proper management. This variety produce high yield of 6 - 7 kg of pepper/tree/year. High fruit per stalk ratio makes harvest easier (fruit stalk length is longer than Kuching). I familiar with this variety grown in Serian and Bau area in Sarawak during my field visits. Uniform ripening duration allows an easier harvest, 3 rounds per year.
  • Driage to Black Pepper: 33%
  • Driage to White Pepper: 22%
  • Chemical quality:
  • Piperine – 5.4%
  • Oleoresin – 15.5%
  • Volatile oil – 3.8%
  • Non-volatile oil – 11.5%
Resistance to disease Black Berry, Foot Rot and Snoutbeetle / Pepper Weevil attacks and controlled with chemical with proper application.

(3) Semengok Perak Variety
Vigorous growth rates and usually ready in 3 years after planting with a lifespan of 20 years. The best about this variety are the potential high yield of 6 - 7 kg of pepper/ tree/ year. Uniform ripening duration allows an easier harvest for about 3 rounds per year. There are also other names of pepper variety in Malaysia namely as 'Semegok Emas' Variety that is similar to those one above. Can you guest which variety?. 
This pepper industry produce for 23,210 mt in 2012 valued at RM 112 million for domestic and export market. There are about 67,200 smallholders involves in pepper planting mainly in Sarawak and few in Johor States. Malaysia export pepper product to Europe, China and Singapore value at RM 141 million annually as herbs and spices. Other top pepper production country are Indonesia and other ASEAN country and Sri Lanka and India. Thanks.


M Anem
Senior Agronomist
Senai, Johor,
(28 Ramadan 1434H)

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