State to emphasise acacia, bamboo R&D to boost timber industry

Awang Tengah (right) addressing reporters as Assistant Minister of Entrepreneur and SME Development Datuk Naroden Majais (centre) looks on.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 24: Sarawak will continue to push research and development (R&D) in acacia and bamboo to spur its timber industry.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the state government, through Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), is looking to set up more collaboration with the private sector to promote acacia and bamboo as alternative wood species for the furniture industry.

“Acacia, being a fast growing planted tree species, is a renewable and sustainable source of material that qualifies for the ‘green product’ certification requirement.

“STIDC envisages leading the development of the furniture industry towards producing acacia furniture for global markets with a vision to turn Sarawak into a regional hub in the future,” he said at a press conference to announce the 4th Sarawak Timber and SMEs Expo 2019 here today.

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, said the “House of Acacia”, a prominent exhibition at the biennial expo since 2013, was part of an R&D project undertaken by STIDC in collaboration with Samling Housing Products Sdn Bhd.

The technical collaboration promotes the diversity of acacia utilisation, while supporting the state government policy in developing forest plantation as source of raw materials for the timber industry in the future, he added.

Awang Tengah said bamboo, one of the fastest growing crops with a three to four-year gestation period, is deemed a renewable source of raw materials and a great potential crop for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sarawak in particular the timber industry.

“Sarawak has the potential to develop bamboo plantations due to the availability of land, suitability of soil and climate to support the industry’s growth.

“Bamboo will be able to create added value to timber and further R&D would enable the commodity to spearhead the development of SME institution in Sarawak.”

He added that the Bamboo Gallery was first introduced in the Sarawak Timber and SME Expo in 2015, as part of STIDC’s continuous effort to create awareness and promote the utilisation of bamboo in the furniture industry, as well as alternative source of raw materials.

STIDC signed a memorandum of understanding with Subur Tiasa Sdn Bhd on R&D in bamboo in 2016.

Meanwhile, Sarawak export earnings of timber and timber products in the first quarter this year recorded a 3.3 per cent decrease when compared to 2018.

Exports in the first quarter this year was recorded at RM1.277 billion, when compared to RM1.321 billion last year.

Plywood, log and sawn timber remained the top three export products at RM713 million, RM169 million and RM160 million respectively, despite recording a drop of 2.3 per cent, 9.5 per cent and 10.5 per cent, when compared to the first quarter of 2018.

Japan remained the top importer of the state’s timber and timber products, with trade volume at RM661 million or 52 per cent of the market. This followed by the Middle East (RM111 million) and India (RM104 million).

Japan is also the top importer of the state’s furniture and furniture parts, followed by Brunei, the United States and Australia. — DayakDaily