Sunday, February 5

Wood export falls in 1Q to RM1.62 bln


THE export performance of Sarawak wood products for the first quarter of 2016 has decreased due to the uncertain global market situation, says Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

He said exports had fallen by 1.8 per cent to RM1.62 billion compared to RM1.65 billion during the same period in 2015.

“The decrease in export value is due to lesser demands from the main importing countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Middle East, China and Thailand,” he said in his winding-up speech yesterday.

He added that export value of plywood, the main product, had also fallen by 13.5 per cent to RM791.5 million compared to RM914.7 million earned in the same period last year.

Nevertheless, Awang Tengah assured that the state government was currently taking several measures to strengthen export of the state’s wood products.

“Among the measures include continuing the efforts towards the betterment of Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) so that our wood products will continue to be accepted at the international markets.

“In addition, market promotional activities by organising promotional sales and investment programmes in other countries as well as participating in exhibitions at international level will also continue to be held,” he said.

Awang Tengah also touched on Sarawak Biodiversity Centre’s Traditional Knowledge Documentation Programme where the centre has developed a framework on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) through a project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“This project focuses on the development of LitSara, an essential oil from a plant (Litsea cubeba) linked to traditional knowledge of three ethnic communities in Sarawak namely the Bidayuh, Lun Bawang and Kelabit. The Bidayuhs call the tree ‘pahkak’ while the Orang Ulus call it ‘tenum’.

“This ‘sweet’ scented oil is being incorporated into popular products such as handmade soaps made with natural ingredients that will bring benefits to the indigenous communities if successfully commercialised.”

On other collaboration fronts, he noted that SBC had a total of 30 research collaborations with international as well as local organisations.

“One such collaboration between SBC and Swinburne University of Technology Australia has interesting findings, which identified plants that were effective as anti-flu agents. The are Mussaenda elmeri (Iban name is Pemandang Kumang), Calophyllum lanigerum (Iban name is Bintangor Bukit) both of which are collected from Rh Skatap, Betong; and Albizia corniculata (Orang Ulu name is War Pungeh) collected from Long Kerebangan, Lawas.

“The findings of this research have been published in Advances in Microbiology, 2014 and further research is ongoing,” he said.

He added that such researches were important to attract scientists and naturalists to the state’s national parks where biodiversity was not only conserved as a natural heritage but also as an abundant resource for scientists to unlock its valuable applications.