Sarawak scientists, researchers achieve breakthrough in turning sago starch into rice

Sagah (seated centre) flanked by Dr Annuar (seated left) and Harden, speaks during the press conference at Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUS) Complex on May 13, 2024.

Editor’s Note: DayakDaily makes a full and unreserved apology to Minister of Education, Innovation and Talent Development, Dato Sri Roland Sagah Wee Inn and Ministry of Education, Innovation and Talent Development for our headline and article published on our website on May 13, 2024 which contained errors and inaccuracies which have caused distress to the minister and ministry staff.

In the headline and article, we erroneously conflated two separate points to give the impression that Sarawak scientists have discovered that sago starch rice can prevent Covid-19. However, these are two separate endeavours are conducted by two different groups.

CRAUN Research Sdn Bhd developed sago starch rice from sago whereas Sarawak Biodiversity Centre collaborated with Sarawak Research and Development Council in 2022 to investigate natural compounds in biodiversity that could prevent viral infection, specifically SARS COV 2.


We have replaced our earlier article with one which corrects the errors and inaccuracies. We also have instituted internal measures and checkpoints to ensure that such inaccuracies and errors may be avoided. We will do our utmost to exercise care in publishing articles about scientific statements and discoveries to protect the integrity as well as the reputations of those behind them.

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, May 13: Scientists and researchers at CRAUN Research Sdn Bhd have made a breakthrough discovery by turning sago starch into rice.

Minister of Education, Innovation and Talent Development (MEITD) Dato Sri Roland Sagah Wee Inn highlighted that this innovation by CRAUN, a Sarawak crop research and application agency, would provide an opportunity to address food security and diversify sago products in the region.

CRAUN achieved the breakthrough recently when they discovered after numerous attempts that one of the products that can be produced from sago starch is rice, which is a staple food here.

It is not yet in commercial production but at the lab stage.

“Currently, we do not have enough sago. You need a lot of sago first then you can produce the required amount (of rice) that we need, he said, while commending the scientists and researchers for their efforts during a press conference at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s (DUS) Media Room.

Earlier during his ministerial winding-up speech, Sagah told the august House that research undertaken by Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) in collaboration with Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) in 2022 on natural compounds has yielded encouraging results.

“The research that investigated natural compound in the biodiversity (sic) could prevent viral infection, specifically SARS COV 2 (Covid-19),” he said.

This discovery, Sagah emphasised not only indicates promising prospects for the future but also underscores its potential financial benefits.

“Congratulations to our scientists and researchers at SBC,” he commended.

Also present at the press conference were Deputy Minister I (Higher Education and Innovation) Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee, Deputy Minister II (Talent Development) Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, MEITD permanent secretary Datu Azmi Bujang and Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (Tropi) director Datu Dr Lulie Melling. —DayakDaily