10-year Sabah biotech blueprint
The Star
18 January 2005

Kota Kinabalu: A 10-year Sabah Biotechnology Action Blueprint (2005-2015) has been drawn up to transform Sabah into a vibrant, competitive and leading world class centre for biotechnology.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said this reflected the commitment of the State Government in providing the support to develop bio-industry in Sabah.

The Blueprint was formulated by the Working Group on Biotechnology Research, Development and Applications under the Sabah Agro-Industrial Development Steering Committee chaired by the Agriculture and Food Industry Minister.

Opening the two-day Conference on Halatuju - Strategic Direction of the Agricultural Sector in Sabah: Positioning for the Bio-Economy, Musa said the Blueprint would be the roadmap for all stakeholders to participate meaningfully in the biotechnology development in Sabah over the next 10 years.

The conference at Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort was jointly organised by the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah) (IDS), Wawasan Sejahtera Sdn Bhd and Marditech Corporation Sdn Bhd.

"It also sets out policies and strategies for biotechnology development in Sabah consistent with the Halatuju," he said, adding that among others it spells out the legal and institutional framework, research agenda and action plans.

It also outlines the role of the State Government and the private sector in biotechnology development in Sabah.

The growth period of bio-economy is expected to take place during the 2020s and as such, developing economies like Sabah need to acquire the capability and capacity to process products.

This, he said, was in order to make the transition from exporting raw and semi-processed materials exporting processed, high value-added products using these industrial biotechnology processes.

"I believe viable bio-industry enterprises could be spawned by harnessing Sabah's factor endowments, such as its rich agricultural and bio-diversity resources, valuable indigenous botanical knowledge, strategic geographical location and favourable climatic conditions," he said.

One of the key initiatives to enable Sabah to make the quantum leap to the bio-economy is the implementation of the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (SAIP).

As an innovation-driven technology-led agro-based development cluster dedicated to optimise the use of Sabah's strategic natural resources, SAIP spearheaded by IDS would pave the way for the creation of agro-biotechnology business opportunities and serves as the nucleus of the Sabah Bio-Corridor.

Later, Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail said everything was in place and SAIP would be implemented in the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

Towards this end, Musa said public sector-driven joint-venture programmes and projects involving the private sector would be intensified.

"Commercialisation of research findings and new innovations by the private sector in Sabah is indeed welcomed by the State Government," he said.

On the part of the State Government, it would continue to facilitate the participation of the private sector by providing the necessary support services and developing infrastructure such as agro-technology park, agro-industrial clusters and permanent food production zones.

"It is my fervent hope that the continued close cooperation fostered between the private the public sectors would help speed up the industrialisation process of Sabah, in particular the State's participation in the bio-industry," he said.