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Seaweed & Ginger Set to Make New Waves of Growth in Sabah’s Sustainable Development

KOTA KINABALU, 22 July 2023 – 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, YB 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 organised by Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation (Bioeconomy Corporation) at Sabah International Convention Centre here today, in conjunction with Hari Koperasi Negara 2023.

During the ceremony, Rhodomaxx Sdn Bhd, a Sabah bio-based company, launched “AlgaGrow”, a bio-based fertiliser product derived sustainably 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, utilising ginger-specific nutrient input with modern farming techniques.  Datuk Arthur noted that innovative Malaysian bio-based companies like Rhodomaxx and Tamara play a key role in uplifting Sabah’s farmers through modernisation of farming methods, developing economic opportunities for wealth creation, as well as solving global issues with local sustainable solutions. He stated that as the largest seaweed-producing state and third largest producer of ginger in Malaysia, Sabah plays a crucial role in contributing to the country’s agricultural sector and bioeconomy.

“Thanks to Bioeconomy Corporation’s facilitation and support, Rhodomaxx and Tamara have capitalised on these abundant resources and leveraged them to drive innovation and sustainable growth. Rhodomaxx invested RM1.5 million in research and product development, including for seaweed-based derivatives like bioplastics and feed additives, with plans to raise it to RM12 million in the next three years. Meanwhile, Tamara and KOPUJAYA’s collaboration on the pilot farm in Tuaran will involve at least 40 farmers from the ginger industry to eventually produce at least 150 metric tonnes (MT) of ginger from Sabah. These companies demonstrate how innovative actions coupled with serious investments and strategic partnerships in the bio-based industry can advance the agriculture sector forward in Sabah,” said Datuk Arthur, adding that these efforts align with the mission of National Biotechnology Policy 2.0 to unite and concentrate Malaysia’s bio-based resources and activities for the advancement of economic prosperity, societal well-being, and sustainability in Malaysia.

Chief Executive Officer of Bioeconomy Corporation, En Mohd Khairul Fidzal Abdul Razak highlighted that the bio-based initiatives undertaken by Rhodomaxx, Tamara and KOPUJAYA are rooted on sustainable practices that would 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 fertiliser inputs, potential carbon sink opportunities, safer non-chemical inputs, diverse market channels for seaweed farmers, technology transfer for bio-based ginger cultivation, modernisation of ginger farmers, and innovative seaweed and ginger-based product development. These initiatives are expected to complement the substantial revenues from seaweed as a highly valuable commodity, with an annual raw seaweed revenue in Malaysia ranging from RM50 million to RM60 million in the previous three years, alongside the strong global market demand for ginger, projected to reach USD10.3 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.7% during the forecast period of 2022-2030, whilst Malaysia’s current self-sufficiency rate (SSR) for ginger stands at 18.9% which translates to an import volume of over 50,000 MT,” added En Khairul.

Founder and director of Rhodomaxx, Mr. 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 ranging from plastic pollution and biochemical imbalances such as algal blooms. With the Malaysian government’s support and guidance from Bioeconomy Corporation, we aim to scale up our bioplastic, fertilisers, and feed solutions to serve the global market.”

Managing Director of Tamara, Mr. Syakur Bin Mohd Suhaimi stated, “We firmly believe that our collaboration with Koperasi Pembangunan Usaha Jaya Semporna Berhad will significantly propel Tamara Nanoetech’s expansion into Sabah’s thriving ginger market. By integrating advanced agricultural inputs and modernising ginger cultivating practices, this partnership seeks to bolster ginger production in Sabah, aligning with the nation’s goals of enhancing food security.”