MARDI Sarawak’s Agricultural Innovations

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Since its establishment in the early 1970s, the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) have been researching and developing in a wide range of agriculture-related areas, including rice, livestock, agricultural biotechnology, food science & technology, and non-food agricultural-based industry.

In an online interview with RAKAN Sarawak, MARDI Sarawak highlighted several innovations resulting from its rigorous research and development (R&D) that have benefited Sarawak’s agricultural sector.

Particularly, the institute had conducted a number of research related to the State’s local fruits and crops in terms of product development and quality improvement.

MARDI research officer Dr. Zuraida Ab. Rahman with terung asam-based beverages developed by the institute. Photo from Utusan Malaysia

This had led to innovations as well as technologies (described in the table below) that were ready to be transferred to entrepreneurs:

Table 1: Innovations and technologies by MARDI Sarawak based on Sarawak’s local fruits and crops
R&D conducted by MARDI Sarawak in recent years involves product development on Sarawak’s local fruits and crops such as paku midin. File photo

Additionally, MARDI Sarawak had carried out R&D efforts to enhance the quality of Sarawak’s unique food products, namely:

Table 2: Innovations and technologies by MARDI Sarawak on Sarawak’s unique food products

MARDI Sarawak also noted three significant innovations it had come up with in recent years. They were:

Cendol Project

In 2019, MARDI Sarawak collaborated with Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) to help the community of Kampung Sungai Bedil, Kuching Association to produce dried cendol that is durable, easy to store and easy to prepare. The end result was instant cendol and cendol crackers.

Instant cendol developed by MARDI Sarawak together with DBKU. Photo from e-Buletin Teknologi MARDI

The instant cendol has gone on to win accolades at international invention conventions and shows in Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

Sago Log Transporter

A collaborative effort between MARDI Sarawak and CRAUN Research Sdn Bhd in 2018, the sago log transporter is a type of ‘prime-mover’ transport machinery that uses a truck to enable sago stalks to be transported out of farms which are usually in soft or waterlogged soils.

Sago log transporter in action. Screenshot from MARDI Malaysia’s Facebook page

Prior to the development of this technology, sago stalks were transported manually by rolling them one by one until they are out of the farm; the process was slow and required a lot of labour.

With this technology, the productivity of sago stalk production can be improved in major sago plantations in Sarawak.

Furthermore, the income of sago farmers can be increased, and the Sarawak sago industry can be advanced to meet the demand of the international market which remains insufficient.

MARDI Warna 98

2018 also saw MARDI Sarawak introducing a new variety of coloured paddy named MARDI Warna 98. Rice grains of this variety are reddish in colour, originating from anthocyanin pigments that have a high antioxidant value.

It also has high mineral content synonymous with brown rice, which will undoubtedly contribute greatly to the high demand among consumers who want to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Accordingly, the speciality rice breeding programme is targeting the production of various coloured paddy varieties that possess high quality and nutritional characteristics to provide more options to consumers.

MARDI Warna 98 is resistant to leaf blight and moderately resistant to stem blight and viral red disease, but is moderately susceptible to bacterial leaf blight, sheath blight and brown blight.

MARDI Warna 98. Photo from MARDI’s official blog

Regardless, improvements on its morphological and yield characteristics is expected to meet the needs of farmers through biannual planting and the use of harvesting machinery to obtain better manufacturing returns.

DEHYDOME, an innovation by MARDI Sarawak’s innovative creative circle (KIK) group Trigona Tech. Photo courtesy of MARDI Sarawak
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