MPB's first R&D station in Sarawak completed - Willie Mongin
KUCHING, Feb 14 -- The Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) field research station worth RM2.83 million which aims to increase research and development (R&D) activities in pepper farming in Semenggok near here has been completed and will be handed over to the agency next month.
Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Willie Mongin said the research station, constructed on a 0.4-hectare land, will become the first such centre in Malaysia.
"The construction of the station is implemented in Sarawak as the state carries out 98 per cent of the country's pepper planting industry,” he told a press conference after a visit to the field station today.
The implementation of the station is aimed at developing the infrastructure to enhance pepper farming field test activities, besides developing testing plots to evaluate the effectiveness of the R&D outcomes, as well as maintenance of germplasm collection in the country.
"The researchers will also use these plots to carry out studies on support poles that we launched several months ago and produce new (pepper) varieties that are more resilient," he said.
Willie said the facilities at the station included four units of greenhouse with built-ups of 158 square metres each for studying diseases and plant pests, tissue culture, breeding and pepper agronomy, apart from a plant shed spanning 150 square metres to house pepper germplasm collection.
Other facilities include two farm testing plots involving pepper germplasm plot and plant testing plot to test the effectiveness of the R&D outcomes, complete with drainage system, wastewater system, roads, as well as information and communications technology equipment.
Meanwhile, Willie said he was disappointed with the delay in the completion of the National Pepper Industry Research and Development Centre (PILN) worth RM40.1 million located next to the research centre and had asked for further information relating to the contractor responsible for the project.
"Probably due to COVID-19, the construction sector is not allowed to operate or maybe there's no labour supply. Let me and my team get the information,” he said on the PILN project which was to have been completed in December 2020.