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Peatland News

Title: TPRL Complex to be operational by October — Director
Date: 18-Jun-2014
Category: Malaysia
Source/Author: BORNEO Post Online
Description: The Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL) Complex is in its final stage of completion and is expected to be operational by October this year.

KUCHING: The Tropical Peat Research Laboratory (TPRL) Complex is in its final stage of completion and is expected to be operational by October this year.

The first of its kind in Malaysia, the complex upon completion will be an ‘all-in-one campus’ with science research parks and comprehensive facilities that encourage collaborative research and development (R&D) between public and private, academia and international communities.

TPRL director Dr Lulie Melling who was briefing Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang on site yesterday however expressed the urgent need of RM10 million to complete the last stage.

According to Lulie, the building which so far has cost RM40 million, upon completion would help to shore up R&D capacity of the state.

The complex is for local scientists and researchers to address environmental issues such as climate change, carbon and water footprint related to agricultural development.

Apart from that, research on peat will also lend support to plantation industries such as oil palm and sago, with an attempt to increase land productivity.

It is also hoped that through the availability of facilities, researchers can identify and quantify environmental parameters for developing adaption and mitigation technologies; to develop technology for pest and disease control as well as to adopt molecular technique in R&D.

“Productivity is the power behind growth and prosperity of any country and the fundamental of all productivity is research,” said Lulie.

She further said research in peat soil over the years has increased productivity of peat land for oil palm from 14 to 15 tonnes per ha to 25 to 35 tonnes per ha, an increase of 100 per cent.

Taking the average of RM5,000 per 10 tonnes per ha per year and the state sales tax of five per cent, an increase of 10 tonnes meant an additional revenue of RM250 per ha per year for the state government.

“Presently, there is one million ha of oil palm being planted on peat in Sarawak. The increased yield of 10 tonnes per ha (RM5,000 per ha) will make a productivity impact on state GDP by RM5 billion per year,” added Lulie.

To ensure that the complex will be a world class research centre, the requirements to be met are just below hospital buildings where the monitoring and evaluation requirements such as contamination control, increase in gas pipings for installation of equipments, as well as standby chiller for 24/7 operation have to be met.

Meanwhile, giving a positive response to the request for RM10 million, Ose said as the complex is a government project the state government would find ways and means to make sure that it would be constructed and properly completed for the purpose it is intended for.

Acknowledging that the complex would be the pride of Sarawak, Ose said the complex would be crucial as a lot of research was needed in agriculture sector, including oil palm industry.

“We cannot just depend on research from other countries. Even the private sector does its own R&D. What more of the government that is supporting the whole industry?

“We have about 1.2 million ha of oil palm (on peat soil) now. We deserve a very good R&D support,” said Ose.

He said for the time being, the TPRL Complex would be focusing on research of oil palm on peat and the government would only consider extending research on other crops in the future.

“What Dr Lulie is asking is still within the cost of the project. It is not additional in the sense that it was never planned before. It is still part of the original project cost,” he said.

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