The rise of ‘Bunga Ta’ang’

A file photo of Kanni (left) visiting the 'Bunga Ta'ang' farm in Kampung Semadang, Penrissen.

By Nancy Nais

PADAWAN, Aug 5: At first glance, the ‘Adenosma nelsonioide’ plant looks insignificant, and appears to be your run-of-the-mill garden weed.

However, after taking a closer look and sniffing them, these wild, green beauties are actually multi-gifted and contain many interesting properties.

“This plant emits a strong odour. It was traditionally used to repel ticks from domestic animals among the Bidayuh and Iban community in Sarawak for generations.

“Coming from the Scrophulariaceae family, we local people call it ‘Bunga Ta’ang’ and it was introduced by our own villager, the late William Sauu to Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) back in 2007,” Kampung Semadang, Penrissen village chief Austin Mapus said.

The AdenoSara project pivots on the traditional knowledge of the communities on the shrub-like plant. Since the plant emits a strong odour, indicative of a potential repellent effect, it earned its place as one of the documented bioactive plants in the SBC natural product library.

SBC then made a traditional knowledge (TK) video documentary on it, followed by a similar documentary on the same plant with the Iban community from Rumah Simon, Lubok Antu in November 2015.

Kampung Semadang is also one of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project sites under its Orang Asli/Orang Asal Micro-Grant Facility for Conservation and Livelihood (OAMGF).

Visiting them today was UNDP assistant Secretary General Kanni Wignaraja who came to witness first-hand the impact and progress of the AdenoSara project on the Bidayuh community.

Over the past four years, UNDP has collaborated with SBC to implement a project to strengthen community-based enterprise in conservation and commercialization of traditional knowledge-based bioproducts.

This project has seen active participation by the Bidayuhs of Kampung Semadang and the Ibans community of Rumah Simon, where they’ve turned the plant into various products such as essential oils, mosquito repellent, flea or tick soap as well as a shampoo and aerosol spray.

Kanni (second left) was briefed on the products made from ‘Bunga Ta’ang’.

Speaking after her tour, Wignaraja applauded the villagers for their perseverance.

“This is the kind of project and success that we want to see. We will continue to be with you in this journey. I will take your products back to New York and tell the story to all,” Wignaraja said.

Owing to the indigenous nature of the plant, a Geographical Indicator was successfully filed with the Malaysian Intellectual Property Corporation (MylPO) as Sarawak Adenosma in year 2015.

An AdenoSara trademark to cover all products developed from the plant was also registered with MylPO and most recently, the plant’s essential oil was successfully registered as a cosmetic ingredient in the globally recognised International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI)’s library.

However or most importantly, SBC said the project has resulted in the signing of Malaysia’s second Access and Benefit Sharing Agreements with the two participating communities in year 2020.

SBC asserts that the agreement act as the legally binding agreement of an equitable sharing of any benefits arising from the commercialization of the products, as well as recognising the communities’ right towards their natural resources and its associated traditional knowledge.

“So far, the project has seen development of infrastructure, execution of capacity building and youth empowerment, as well as benefit payments amounting to RM200,000,” the statement added.

Among others from UNDP who visited the site were Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Niloy Banerjee; Assistant Resident Representative, Asfaazam Kasbani; Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam Interim Head, Sustainable and Resilient Development, Gan Pek Chan; Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam Development Economist Norhafiza Shafie along with Project Manager Malaysia Edmund Chai Ming Lau. — DayakDaily