Sarawak's versatile 'bunga ta'ang' set to bloom commercially

State Education, Innovation and Talent Development Minister Datuk Roland Sagah showing his winding-up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly on Tuesday (Nov 29). - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star

KUCHING: A local plant known as "bunga ta'ang" by Sarawak's Bidayuh community is being developed for its essential oil, which has potential use in a wide range of products, the state legislative assembly was told.

State Education, Innovation and Talent Development Minister Datuk Roland Sagah said the plant was normally used by the Bidayuh to treat skin ailments like rashes and itches and as a flea and tick repellent on domestic animals.

He said laboratory analysis by the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) showed that the plant's phytochemical properties could be developed for several areas such as perfumery, aromatherapy, healthcare, food (as a preservative), poultry and pet care, and pest control (as a larvicide).

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"In case you're wondering, it is not an aphrodisiac," he quipped when delivering his winding-up speech on Tuesday (Nov 29).

Sagah said SBC had signed a benefit-sharing agreement with the Bidayuh community of Kampung Semadang near here and the Iban community of Rumah Simon in Lubok Antu to supply essential oil from bunga ta'ang, or Adenosma nelsonioides.

It is also known as "bangkit engkerawan" among the Ibans of Lubok Antu.

"The essential oil (derived from the plant) has been trademarked by SBC as Adenosara.

"For a start, a sustainable supply of 517 litres of oil has been achieved this year," he said.

He added that to date, SBC had documented 6,568 plants used traditionally by Sarawak's indigenous communities across 111 sites statewide in its traditional knowledge documentation programme.

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"SBC also has a long-term collaboration with Japanese partners to develop micro-algae for potential renewable energy which includes hydrogen production, carbon capture and biofuel," he said.

Sagah also said the Sarawak Bio-Industrial Park would be developed on a 40ha site in Samarahan as a purpose-built facility for SBC to undertake further research and commercialisation activities.

He said Phase One of the park would start next year with an allocation of RM2mil, with subsequent development and construction in four phases until 2035.

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