TSH blazes a trail in Sabah oil palm sector

TAWAU: With over RM40 million invested, the TSH Biotech Wakuba tissue culture laboratory in Sabah, is on track to produce 500,000 oil palm ramets this year, gradually increasing to 1.5 million ramets by 2015.

The Wakuba ramet is the result of 10 years of extensive research and development, with researchers collecting data as early as 2001.

The 70,000 sq ft laboratory, which produces high-quality oil palm using tissue culture technology, has 250 employees and technical expertise from the local community, including its head of biotechnology Dr Jinil Malaji.

Currently, all the biotechnology labs producing high-quality oil palm using tissue culture technology are operating in Peninsular Malaysia, and the Wakuba tissue culture laboratory is the only sizeable commercial lab in Sabah. 

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman who visited the lab yesterday commended TSH for their foresight over 10 years ago in addressing land scarcity challenges while improving planting material for better productivity and yields.

"Although many oil palm players have spoken of biotechnology in the Sabah oil palm sector, only a few have invested their resources in this untapped field," he said.

Impressed with the success of the lab, Musa was heartened that local oil palm players such as TSH had shown their commitment to the local economy and community. 

"I am very pleased to see the commitment of TSH to not just technology advancement but also to supporting the local community," Musa said, congratulating TSH chairman Datuk Kelvin Tan for his visionary idea in setting up the Wakuba lab.

TSH Resources is taking huge strides in increasing oil palm productivity and yields not just in Sabah but also the rest of the country. 

There are over 4.85 million hectares of oil palm plantations in Malaysia, out of which nearly 30 per cent are in Sabah. "Imagine how far we can go by deploying more tissue culture technology. The potential is enormous," Musa said.

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