KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) will be collaborating with a local fertiliser supplier in an effort to strengthen eco-farm agriculture as an educational platform based on research training for the benefit of all stakeholders, especially students and agri-entrepreneurs.
UMS vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Kasim Mansur believed that these efforts through the collaboration with Yun Fung Sang Group Sdn Bhd could encourage more local parties to get involved in the field of agriculture and create avenues for research activities in the oil palm and other agricultural fields.
"It’s because agricultural education is one of the most important aspects for the continued growth of Malaysia's agricultural sector as it leverages technology and innovation to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the downstream oil palm sector," he said, in a statement here on Tuesday (April 25).
Kasim expressed these views when officiating at the signing of the research agreement (regenerative agriculture and biodiversity) between UMS and the oil palm industry through the Yun Fung Sang Group Sdn Bhd.
The ceremony was held at the UMS campus here on April 19.
Kasim said this research collaboration agreement will also increase the visibility and strength of UMS in the community through close collaboration with the palm oil industry and other related industries.
In addition, both parties also agreed to cooperate in establishing the Chair of Regenerative Agriculture and Biodiversity.
This chair is important to strengthen the palm oil industry in the country, especially in the aspect of improving the health of agricultural lands and conservation of agrobiodiversity, he said.
“The fertiliser that is produced later will be more economical and environmentally friendly, still having a high impact in increasing the production of sustainable agricultural crops, including oil palm,” he added.
Yun Fung Sang Group Sdn Bhd has agreed to support the UMS eco-farm project, which involves studying the application of additional trace elements to soils to improve oil palm yield, soil health and soil fauna diversity in a 12ha oil palm plantation in Gum-Gum, Mile 16 in the east coast Sandakan district.
The project was implemented in 2022 and involves a contribution over a five-year period from Yun Fung Sang Group Sdn Bhd and the participation of its subsidiaries, namely Baja Harapan Group Sdn Bhd, Kang Ke Palm Sdn Bhd and Agri Business Consultancy Sdn Bhd.
This research project also involves a number of experts and researchers, namely lead researcher Assoc Prof Dr Suzan Benedick (entomology and biodiversity), Dr Clament Chin Fui Seung (microbiology and biotechnology), Dr Januarius Gobilik (multi and cross-disciplinary agronomy) and Dr Salumiah Mijin (horticulture and soil nutrition).
Earlier, Suzan said that the goal of this collaborative project was to improve soil nutrient management in the palm oil agroecosystem by providing better information and advice to palm oil farmers, focusing on sustainability indicators such as soil trace element enrichment and cost-effectiveness.
"We believe this collaborative project can help palm oil farmers consider the three key factors: people, planet and profit," she said.
Yun Fung Sang Group director Steve Lee said he would work to strengthen the agricultural industry, especially the palm oil sector, in order to achieve the policy goals of the Sabah government's initiative to make the state a global leader in the sustainable palm oil industry.
“We hope through this research the competitiveness can be further strengthened, and a system of cooperation between academia and industry can contribute to the development of the oil palm nutrient management industry”, he said.
Through this agreement, both parties agree to cooperate to achieve outputs involving publications and research seminars related to fertilisers, palm oil production and biodiversity in palm plantations, exchange of human resources and expertise in the specified fields.