S'wak firm develops rice substitute made from sago starch


State Education, Innovation and Talent Development Minister Datuk Seri Roland Sagah (centre) speaking to reporters at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly's media room on Monday (May 13). - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: A rice substitute can now be derived from sago starch thanks to research by a Sarawak agency, says a state minister.

Education, Innovation and Talent Development Minister Datuk Seri Roland Sagah said the discovery by Craun Research Sdn Bhd would help address food security concerns and diversify the sago product range.

"If you do not have a (keen sense of) taste, you will not be able to differentiate between ordinary rice and sago starch rice," he told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly when winding up matters related to his ministry on Monday (May 13).

Speaking to reporters later, Sagah said Craun had been working on the sago rice research for the past two years.

"It made a breakthrough recently when it found that one use of sago starch is to turn it into 'rice', our staple food," he said.

Sagah noted, however, that sago starch rice was still at the laboratory stage and not in commercial production yet.

He said cultivation needed to be stepped up for sago starch rice to be produced commercially.

On another matter, Sagah said the Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC) had co-developed diagnostic kits for malaria and tuberculosis.

He also said SIDC had been co-opted as a member of the UK South-East Asia vaccine hub.

"Currently, SIDC is in active discussions with the hub for potential investment in vaccine development, transfer of technology and manufacturing of vaccines in the upcoming SIDC facility," he said.

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