Sarawak Can Be A Leader In Bioeconomy In Malaysia – Dr Annuar

KUCHING: There is great potential for Sarawak to be a leading state in the country in the field of bioeconomy.

Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee said this is because the state has vast forests which are rich in biodiversity.

We also have 20 per cent of the Malaysian coastal area in Sarawak which has not been explored, in particular its biodiversity even though its oil and gas have been explored so well.

Therefore, there is great potential for Sarawak to be a leading state in the country in terms of bioeconomy, Dr Annuar said in his welcoming speech at Bioborneo and Bioeconomy Day 2017 organised by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) at a hotel here yesterday.

Dr Annuar said the theme of the event ‘Driving Bioeconomy for Rural Transformation’ was very appropriate and in line with the state’s focus on rural development.

About a year ago, the State Government of Sarawak had established the Sarawak Economic Transformation Plan which emphasised on rural transformation development. Therefore I think the bioeconomy development is playing a very important role in this government agenda.

In stressing that research is not new to Sarawak, he said the state has several initiatives in place to drive research and development in sectors like agriculture, forestry, medicine, natural products and crops to enhance the development of local bio-based products.

Additionally, he said research institutions like Agriculture Research Centre (ARC) CRAUN Research and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) were established to harness the state’s local and indigenous biological resources such as food crops, plants and microbes and value-added products.

We do have a lot of academic institutions such as UCTS (University College of Technology Sarawak), Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Curtin University Malaysia. We are going to set up a Bio Valley in Curtin in order to harness more of these activities in the future.

Dr Annuar also said more efforts are needed as far as commercialisation of the research that has been conducted is concerned.

That’s why we organised the ‘Seminar on the Commercialisation of: Benefitting Retuen from Science’. We also engaged Mosti as well as Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation Sdn Bhd to help us to have a focal point for all the researchers, academicians, and industry players so that we can meet up to together work out a network on how to commercialise our researches.

Meanwhile, Dr Annuar said the National Science Council meeting held last week had accepted a National Strategic Plan for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from 2017 to 2025 that had been formulated by Mosti, the Higher Education Ministry and Education Ministry.

These three ministries formulated a national strategic plan for STEM for 2017 and 2025. It is a very important strategic plan so that we produce more scientists and technical knowledge citizens because we cannot depend on the traditional way anymore.

At the moment, he said the country had yet to achieve the Science to Arts ratio of 60:40 in its institutions of higher learning.

That is why the government is trying to put more emphasis on STEM. But you cannot produce people who are good in STEM in one or two years. You have to start from primary school. This is included in the strategic plan.

Dr Annuar stressed the importance of technology in sectors such as agriculture and farming in the future, adding that when one talks about bioeconomy, the basis of it is still STEM.

Source: Borneo post online