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Published: Monday June 27, 2011 MYT 8:40:00 PM

Centre to research under-utilised crops

KUALA LUMPUR: A centre is to be set up here specifically designed to evaluate under-utilised crops for food and non-food uses.

The Crops for the Future Research Centre (CFFRC) is expected to receive a funding of nearly RM113mil (US$40mil) over seven years from the government to carry out research on a whole range of under-utilised crops.

The centre, the first of its kind in the world, is co-hosted by the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus in Semenyih in partnership with the government.

"Out of the total fund, RM46mil will go towards infrastructure which will take about 18 months to complete, while the remaining money will cover operational costs over seven years," said CFFRC CEO Prof Sayed Azam-Ali.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched the facility Monday.

The centre will have access to facilities at the University of Nottingham campuses in Malaysia, the UK and China, national agencies such as the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, and leading universities in Malaysia.

It will also have operational links with other CFF entities, Biodiversity International and other international agencies in Africa and South Asia.

"In poor and impoverished regions of the world, there are plants that have survived despite no research and science. This is our chance to find out what those plants would be like as crops for the future," Sayed said.

He said the centre would seek out crops which may have the potential to be grown for human sustenance or on commercial basis for food, pharmaceutical or biomaterials.

The main architectural features of the CFFRC are three iconic domes housing living laboratories.

It will be surrounded by botanical gardens of alternative plants which can be studied in the field and under more controlled conditions in laboratories and polytunnels.

The building will be constructed using environmentally-efficient technology and materials. - Bernama.

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