BINTULU (July 6): The establishment of the Kerawing hill rice research plot at Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus (UPMKB) will be able to boost agricultural development in Sarawak.
A total of 30 individuals consisting of researchers, graduate students, and farmers took part in ‘menugal’ (rice planting) activities in conjunction with the launching ceremony of the padi [email protected] huma (hill padi) research plot at the campus here recently.
UPMKB campus director Prof Dr Shahrul Razid Sarbini said the 1ha plot has been allocated to carry out research projects under the Transdisciplinary Research Grant Scheme (TRGS-KPT) 2022.
“This plot will be a base-line data for researchers to test seed, bio-fertiliser, biochar, bio-pesticide, and pre-harvest and post-harvest method grading in the field before transferring the technology to farmers in Sungai Asap, Belaga,” he said.
Programme chief Assoc Prof Dr Noorasmah Saupi said the project, which is fully funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, aims to increase the production of Bukit Kerawing rice in Sungai Asap, Belaga apart from commercialising local rice varieties to increase the country’s food sufficiency.
The programme is called ‘Improvement of Socioeconomic of Small-Scale Farmers Through Sustainable Intervention to Increase Hill Padi (Kerawing Var) Productivity at Sungai Asap, Belaga, Sarawak’.
Noorasmah said the programme is expected to be able to increase the quantity of Kerawing rice yield, optimise the use of sustainable agricultural inputs such as the use of bio-fertilisers, bio-charcoal, and bio-pesticides, as well as improve post-harvest management to maintain the premium quality of this variety to be comparable to existing varieties such as Bario and Biris rice.
“We hope that this rice variety can become a geographical indication for Sungai Asap, which can be known as Sungai Asap Kerawing Rice,” she said.
Shahrul said besides Noorasmah, the other projects carried out under this programme will be led by UPMKB researchers Prof Dr Patricia King Jie Hung, Dr Tunung Robin, and Dr Adrian Daud, while the supervisor for this research plot is Philip Lepun.
“We are very positive about the impact that will be obtained from this study because it supports the National Agrofood Policy (DAN 2.0) which has been introduced by the government to deal with the issue of national food security,” he said.
A total of RM932,649 has been obtained from the Ministry of Higher Education to run this programme, which is expected to end on Nov 30, 2025.