Seaweed, ginger are set to make new waves of growth in Sabah

Arthur (centre) at the AlgaGrow product launch at the Sabah International Convention Centre. With him are Chung (left) and Mohd Khairul.

KOTA KINABALU (July 22): The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) is confident that Sabah will receive significant economic benefits from the use of biotechnology, particularly in activities based on seaweed and ginger production.

Its deputy minister, Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup, said the application of biotechnology is increasing among local industry players in Sabah.

He was present to witness a bio-based product launch and Memorandum of Understanding exchange ceremony organized by the Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation (Bioeconomy Corporation) at the Sabah International Convention Center here on Saturday, in conjunction with the National Cooperative Day 2023.

During the ceremony, Rhodomaxx Sdn Bhd, a Sabah bio-based company, launched “AlgaGrow”, a bio-based fertilizer product derived from Sabah seaweed.

Meanwhile, the MoU exchange ceremony held between Bio-based Accelerator (BBA) company Tamara Nanoetech (M) Sdn Bhd (Tamara) and Koperasi Pembangunan Usaha Jaya Semporna Berhad (KOPUJAYA) marked their collaboration to set up a pilot farm for ginger cultivation in Tuaran, using ginger-specific nutrient input in modern farming methods.

Arthur noted that innovative Malaysian bio-based companies such as Rhodomaxx and Tamara are playing an important role in energizing Sabah’s farmers by modernizing farming methods, generating economic opportunities for wealth creation, as well as solving global issues with local sustainable solutions.

He said that as the largest seaweed producing state and the third largest producer of ginger in Malaysia, Sabah plays an important role in contributing to the country’s agriculture and bioeconomy sector.

“Thanks to the facilitation and support of the Bioeconomy Corporation, Rhodomaxx and Tamara took advantage of these abundant resources and used them to drive innovation and sustainable growth.

Rhodomaxx has invested RM1.5 million in research and product development, including for seaweed-based derivatives such as bioplastics and feed additives, with plans to raise this to RM12 million in the next three years. Meanwhile, the collaboration between Tamara and KOPUJAYA in the pilot farm in Tuaran will involve at least 40 farmers from the ginger industry to eventually produce at least 150 metric tons (MT) of ginger from Sabah. These companies show how innovative actions coupled with serious investments and strategic partnerships in the bio-based industry can advance the agricultural sector in Sabah,” said Arthur, adding that these efforts are in line with the mission of the National Biotechnology Policy 2.0 to unite and concentrate Malaysia’s bio-based resources and activities for the promotion of economic development, social well-being, and social well-being in Malaysia.

The Chief Executive Officer of Bioeconomy Corporation, Mohd Khairul Fidzal Abdul Razak emphasized that the bio-based initiatives undertaken by Rhodomaxx, Tamara and KOPUJAYA are rooted in sustainable practices that will add high value to Sabah’s agricultural and economic development. “As a result of these initiatives, Sabah will benefit from sustainable agri-inputs, reduced dependency on imported fertilizer inputs, potential carbon sink opportunities, safer non-chemical inputs, diversified market channels for seaweed farmers, technology transfer for bio-based ginger cultivation, modernization of ginger farmers, and innovative seaweed and ginger-based product development.

These initiatives are expected to add to the huge income from seaweed as a very valuable commodity, with annual raw seaweed income in Malaysia ranging from RM50 million to RM60 million in the past three years, along with the strong global market demand for ginger, which is expected to reach USD10.3 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 201% in Malaysia’s current period of 4.7%. -sufficiency rate (SSR) for ginger is at 18.9% which means an import volume of more than 50,000 MT,” added Khairul.

The founder and director of Rhodomaxx, Chung Ngin Zhun commented, “Rhodomaxx sees the future of seaweed in Sabah as a bright one. As Sabahans, we believe that local seaweed can solve the world’s sustainability issue from plastic pollution and biochemical imbalances such as algal blooms.

With the support and guidance of the Malaysian government from the Bioeconomy Corporation, we aim to scale up our bioplastic, fertilizers and feed solutions to serve the global market.”

Tamara’s Managing Director, Syakur Bin Mohd Suhaimi said, “We strongly believe that our partnership with Koperasi Pembangunan Usaha Jaya Semporna Berhad will significantly drive Tamara Nanoetech’s expansion into Sabah’s thriving ginger market. By combining advanced agricultural inputs and modernizing ginger cultivation practices, this partnership aims to boost ginger production in Sabah, aligning with the country’s goals of improving food security.

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