Aggressive R&D undertaken to drive downstream activities for commodities, says Teresa Kok

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the government has successfully obtained the agreement from government agencies and the private sector to use local rubber products in infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Rail Link and projects carried out by Kuala Lumpur City Hall. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the government has successfully obtained the agreement from government agencies and the private sector to use local rubber products in infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Rail Link and projects carried out by Kuala Lumpur City Hall. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The Ministry of Primary Industries has undertaken various efforts in research and development (R&D) to enhance economic activities including the downstream activities for rubber, timber, cocoa, pepper and kenaf industries.

Its Minister, Teresa Kok Suh Sim said in the rubber sector, for instance, the government had allocated RM100 million last year to build roads spanning 202.68 kilometres using cuplump modified asphalt, and successfully obtained the agreement from government agencies and the private sector to use local rubber products in infrastructure projects such as the East Coast Rail Link and projects carried out by Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

“This is to increase the use of local rubber in order to strengthen the income of rubber smallholders. This is following issues arising from the trade war between the United Sates (US) and China which also contributed to the drop in global rubber price,” she said when presenting her ministry’s report card on RTM’s “Bicara Naratif” programme at Angkasapuri here, recently.

To stabilise the rubber price, she said, the Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme mechanism under the International Tripartite Rubber Council was successfully implemented, and from January to November 2019, the value of rubber exports hit RM28.1 billion, with major importing countries being the US (24.0 per cent), the European Union (21.2 per cent) and China (17.7 per cent).

Apart from that, the Malaysian Rubber Exports Promotion Council has also allocated RM20 million to assist small rubber companies undergo automation, out of which RM4.2 million has been disbursed to 10 projects under the first phase.

Meanwhile, for the pepper industry, Kok said the export value for January to November 2019 period amounted to RM107.68 million, with production totalling 31,590 tonnes and plantation acreage of 17,727 hectares.

She said although the country faced competition from other producers, among others China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, the black pepper cultivated in Malaysia especially those produced in Sarawak are the most popular and well-known in the world.

“Looking at its huge potential, this year, we are launching a Sarawak downstream pepper product and hoped it will become a catalyst to the nation’s pepper exports, hence helping the pepper farmers most of whom are smallholders,” she said.

For the timber industry, Kok said the export value from January to November 2019 amounted to RM20.5 billion, while cocoa recorded RM6 billion during the same period.

As for the kenaf industry, two new fibre processing plants have been built, one each in Setiu, Terengganu, and Rompin, Pahang, with the capacity to produce an estimated annual production worth RM18 million and RM1.25 million respectively. The Rompin plant also has the capacity to produce brown paper valued at about RM3.6 million annually. — Bernama

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