Saturday, December 4

Malaysian Nuclear Agency receives recognition in plant mutation breeding


VIENNA: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recognised Malaysia’s achievement in helping to
enhance food security by using radiation to breed better crop varieties.

At its 58th general conference here, the IAEA named the Malaysian Nuclear Agency (Nuclear Malaysia) as a recipient of its Plant Mutation Breeding Awards.

The international award conferment is in recognition of Nuclear Malaysia’s ‘excellent contribution’ in the field of plant mutation breeding in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region.

The award presentation was held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Joint FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation)/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.

Malaysian Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur received the award on behalf of Nuclear Malaysia from IAEA Nuclear Application deputy director-general Aldo Malavasi.

“The conferment of the award for Nuclear Malaysia, which is under my ministry, is an international recognition of the top quality scientists in Malaysia,” Noorul Ainur told Bernama after the award presentation at the Vienna International Centre here yesterday.

She said a total of 33 crop mutant varieties, including rice, banana and groundnuts, as well as ornamental mutants were developed in Malaysia through the expert collaboration of a team led by Dr Rusli Ibrahim.

Dr Rusli’s team worked with a nuclear technology application which exposed seeds to radiation in order to generate desirable traits in the plants, such as
disease resistance, early maturation and better nutrient content.

Noorul Ainur said the selected mutants with coveted traits could contribute towards improved economic earnings for farmers and provided a big potential for Malaysia’s economy.

She was accompanied by the Malaysian ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Organisations in Vienna, Datuk Selwyn Das, and Nuclear Malaysia director-general Datuk Dr Muhamad Lebai Juri.

The awards were initiated by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture to celebrate successes achieved so far and promote the development of further sustainable crop varieties.

Peru and China also won awards.

Peru was honoured for its cereal and native grains research programme to tackle the harsh conditions its farmers faced at high altitudes.

China won the award for three mutant wheat varieties planted on more than 30 million hectares that generated about US$4.9 billion (about RM15.9 billion) worth of socio-economic benefit. — Bernama