RM50 million to fund agricultural research projects in Sabah
SANDAKAN (Sept. 25): An injection of at least RM50 million to fund agricultural research in Sabah would help the Department of Agriculture achieve its goal of achieving 100% self-sufficiency level (SSL) for the food production in the region.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the fund would be used to upgrade facilities, particularly at the department’s three research facilities at Sandakan, Tawau and Tuaran.
Currently, the Department of Agriculture receives only about RM2 million per year for development and research.
“All of these research facilities have successfully produced a variety of food products that could help us in our efforts to ensure food security for the population. As a bonus, these products are very cost effective due to their high quality,” he said.
He said his dream was to empower the Department of Agriculture and turn the Ulu Dusun research center into the main research center for agricultural tissue culture technology in Sabah.
“Our research centers are essential to our operations because without the expertise and knowledge of our researchers, we would be forced to rely on research carried out by the private sector or even abroad on our own local factories.
“We don’t want this to happen because it would mean losing business opportunities, not to mention the possibility of biopiracy of our local biodiversity,” he said.
Jeffrey said this at a press conference after the 60th anniversary launch of the Ulu Dusun Sandakan Agricultural Research Center on Saturday. Also present at the event were his Deputy Minister Hendrus Anding, Permanent Secretary Datuk Dr Mariana Tinggal and Agriculture Department Director Jiffrin Mohamad.
During the event, Jeffrey launched a new variety of pineapple called Sabah Volcanic Sweet-1 (SVS-1) and tissue culture technology to produce pineapple, a new variety of tuhau LSTU-1 and a tuhau planting technology and a new handbook on tacunan coconut planting.
According to him, the new SVS-1 pineapple has several advantages over more well-known varieties such as MD2 pineapples. SVS-1 has a brix value of 16.5 (sweetness level) which is higher than that of MD2’s 14, a brighter golden color fruit and an average weight of 1.5-2.0 kg.
“The fruits are also easily packed due to their uniform cylindrical shape and size and the thornless leaves mean the plants are easier to care for and harvesting will be a breeze,” he said. .
Meanwhile, Jeffrey said the Sabah government had recently formed a cabinet-level committee to address food security issues.
“The committee is an important step as we intensify our efforts to increase our SSL levels across all food groups. We must ensure that Sabah has sufficient food supplies in the future.
“As part of the committee, we have also set up a working group which I chair and where we will implement all the right strategies to achieve these objectives,” he said.