MIRI: Two crucial research projects on agriculture in Sarawak are due to start very soon.
The Sarawak Department of Agriculture and Curtin University Sarawak campus in Miri have recently signed an agreement to jointly conduct the two projects – first to develop high quality superior highland rice and second, to develop an effective biological control agent against plant diseases in this vast state.
The department’s state director Datuk Lai Kui Fong and Curtin Sarawak vice pro-chancellor Prof Jim Mienczakowski recently met in Kuching to ink a memorandum of understanding to carry out the researches in the campus.
The two agreed during their meeting that there was a need to promote and strengthen indepth research in the field of agriculture which was a very crucial sector in the state and country.
They both agreed on the need for the department and Curtin Sarawak to not just explore potential commercial opportunities from these research projects but also to use these projects as avenues to train staff and students on the finer aspects of agriculture.
Lai said that two specific projects to be carried out jointly with Curtin Sarawak were the development of high-value highland rice and the development of field-ready biological control agents to tackle plant diseases.
“The department and its research unit have been championing the research and promotion of local high-yielding rice in Sarawak.
“Our rich varieties of local rice are assets that must be tapped.
“Indepth research is being done on the Bario Rice now,” he said.
Lai stressed that it was also crucial to develop biological control agents against plant diseases so that there is an effective alternative to using chemical controls.
Mienczakowski noted that Curtin Sarawak is keen to develop human capital that are not only academically-savvy but also graduates who are good in researching so that they can contribute to creation of new technology and new techniques in the fields they are in.
Curtin Sarawak campus, located 25kms north of Miri city, has some 3,500 students from 40 countries.
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