Sarawak keen to tap Chinese university’s expertise in biotechnology, big data

Uggah (centre) presenting some local agricultural products to Sheng, as others look on.

KUCHING, Feb 27: Sarawak is keen to collaborate with Yunnan Agricultural University in biotechnology and big data sharing to transform its agriculture sector.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the Chinese university, with over 70 years of teaching and research in agricultural science and technology experience, possessed the experience and expertise to help Sarawak modernise its farming.

“We are in the process of transforming the agriculture sector, embarking on modern farming, where high technology will be the tool.

“So, we are very interested to follow through and collaborate with Yunnan Agricultural University. In addition, this collaboration could enable us to penetrate the huge China market,” he said in a statement today.

Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, had received a courtesy call from the university’s president, Prof Sheng Jun, and other delegates at his office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia here.

Assistant Minister of Native Land Development Datuk Roland Sagah, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail and China’s consul-general in Kuching, Cheng Guangzhong, were also present.

During their meeting, Uggah cited the stingless bee or kelulut honey industry as one of the special interests the state was currently developing.

“This is something new to us, and we have huge potential in it. Currently, not much is known about it, though Universiti Putra Malaysia has done some research,” he said.

However, Uggah expressed confidence that kelulut honey could become one of the most important economic activities to diversify and increase the income of smallholders.

He added that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg would be briefed on the proposed collaboration with Yunnan Agricultural University.

The minister also planned to send a delegation to visit the university to find out more about its biotechnology research and achievements as well as the implementation of its big data processing in the agriculture sector.

Uggah (seated at the head of the table) during the courtesy call.

In his speech earlier, Sheng said the university was very interested in developing the kelulut honey industry in Sarawak.

“The kelulut honey is one of the three most special honey types in the world, which include the famous Manuka honey of New Zealand.

“With our expertise and experience, we are looking at enhancing its development. We want to develop high-end food products, bio-pharmaceutical products and others from the honey,” he said.

Sheng mentioned that the university had 20 different laboratories for research and development.

“We will look at identifying the plants and flowers that attract the stingless bee. These can be cultivated by the farmers,” he suggested, adding that investors from Malaysia, Singapore and China could participate in its development. — DayakDaily