RM50 million to fund agricultural research projects

SANDAKAN: An injection of at least RM50 million to fund agricultural research in Sabah would help the agriculture department in meeting its target of achieving 100% self-sufficiency level (SSL) for 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 in Sandakan, Tawau and Tuaran.

Currently, the agriculture department only receives about RM2 million per year for development and research purposes.

“All of these research facilities have successfully produced a variety of food products that could aid us in our efforts to secure food for the people. As a bonus, these products are highly profitable because of their high quality,” he said.

He said his dream was to empower the agriculture department and turn the research centre in Ulu Dusun the main research centre on agricultural tissue culture technology in Sabah.

“Our research centres are critical to our operations because without the expertise and knowledge of our researchers, we would have to rely on researches done by the private sector or even overseas on our own local plants.

“We don’t want that to happen because it would mean losing commercial opportunities, not to mention the possibility of bio piracy of our local bio-diversity,” he said.

Kitingan said this during a press conference after launching the 60th Anniversary of the Ulu Dusun Sandakan Agriculture Research Facility on Saturday. Also present at the event were his assistant minister Hendrus Anding, permanent secretary Datuk Dr Mariana Tinggal and Agriculture Department Director Jiffrin Mohamad.

During the event, Kitingan launched a new pineapple variety called Sabah Volcanic Sweet-1 (SVS-1) and tissue culture technology to produce pineapple, a new tuhau variety LSTU-1 and tuhau planting technology and a new manual book on tacunan coconut planting.

According to him, the new pineapple SVS-1 possesses several advantages over more well-known varieties such as the MD2 pineapples. The SVS-1 has 16.5 brix (sweetness level) value which is higher than MD2’s 14, a brighter gold colour fruit and an average weight of 1.5 to 2.0kg.

“The fruits are also easily packaged because of its uniform cylinder shape and size and the thornless leaves mean the plants are easier to maintain and harvesting will be a breeze,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kitingan said the Sabah government 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 that ensure Sabah has sufficient food supply in the future.

“Under the committee, we also set up a task force which is chaired by me where we would put into action all the right strategies to achieve these goals,” he said.

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