KUCHING, May 22 (Bernama) -- Sarawak is toying with the idea of bamboo cultivation on a bigger scale and the manufacturing of various products from the commodity, state Land Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Jemut Masing said Tuesday.
"Bamboo has about 1,500 documented applications, including as a building and reconstruction material," he said.
They are used to produce household items like chopsticks, salad bowl, bamboo veneer trays, brief case and can also be used for producing medicinal products, apart from their bamboo shoots being edible.
"Our research has indicated that the cultivation of bamboo has great economical potential. My ministry is giving a serious thought on bamboo cultivation and processing," he said when winding up the debate on the Yang Dipertua Negeri's adress at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, here today.
Dr Masing said about 2.5 billion people used bamboo globally while annual turnover for the industry was estimated at around US$10 billion and this has been projected to shoot up to US$20 billion in 2015.
He said research activities were also being conducted to utilise bamboo for efficient fuel generating system.
"The industry in Malaysia is still at a rudimentary stage," he said.
"The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) has given very high priority for bamboo development," he said.
On the prospects of the palm oil industry in Sarawak, Dr Masing said the state was expected to produce 1.7 million metric tonnes of Crude Palm Oil giving a projected export value of RM3.57 billion calculated based on CPO price of RM2, 100 per metric tonne, this year.
He said the high CPO projected production was attributable to the increase in mature area and improvement in Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) yield expected to be at 15.58 metric tonne per hectare this year.
"If the trend in palm oil price remains stable over the next five years, the state can earn sales tax amounting to RM93.16 million this year and by the year 2010, it would increase to RM130.6 million," he said.
During his presentation, Dr Masing also criticised the anti-palm oil groups and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from European countries, which alleged the palm oil originating from the state as the reason for the loss of biodiversity, emission of carbon dioxide from peatland development, haze incidence and the loss of fauna particularly the Orang Utans and the Sumatran tigers.
He explained that the land development in the state was planned and zoned into plantation and agriculture, industrial, township, protected forest, conservation areas, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
"Oil palm plantations are developed on secondary jungles, either logged-over areas or ex-farm-land.
"No virgin forest has ever been cleared purely for the purpose of oil palm cultivation," he added.