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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

06/04/2005

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

The Edge Daily

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

Felda to set up RM25m biotech centre
The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) is setting up a RM25million biotechnology centre in Negri Sembilan to conduct research intotissue culture and develop commercially viable nutraceutical andpharmaceutical products.

The centre, which is expected to be operational in April 2006, would befocussing on clonal production of commercial and medicinal plants forlocal and export markets, said Felda Agricultural Services Sdn Bhd seniormanager Dr Maheran Abu Bakar, who heads the biotechnology facility.

She said Felda would seek international partners to market itsnutraceutical -- food substance that provides medical or health benefits-- and pharmaceutical products abroad.

Maheran said the group began a pilot project in early 2004 at its researchstation in Sg Tekam, Jerantut which involved about 200 species of herbsincluding Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah and Dokong Anak.

The centre would build on the pilot project, she told a media conferenceon biotechnology activities at techpark@enstek, the site of thebiotechnology plant.

She said the biotechnology centre was also aimed at complementing Felda'splans to develop 20,000ha of marginal land at its schemes into herbalplots and to supply higher quality oil palm and banana clones.

"These main crops can be grown by our settlers -- our products can both bemono-crops or cash crops that are planted while awaiting mono-crops tobear results."

Maheran said while pharmaceutical products involved a longer trial period,a nutraceutical product might be developed and sold in the meantime togenerate income, for example oil palm that has a lot of other propertiesin it.

techpark@enstek, which is located near KLIA, is a RM7 billion integratedtownship being developed jointly by Lembaga Tabung Haji unit TH PropertiesSdn Bhd and the Negeri Sembilan State Development Corporation. Thetownship is expected to be completed by 2025.