Miri – 28 November 2014 – Over 60 participants are expected to attend the ‘Forum on Development of a Marketing Plan for Highland Rice’ jointly organised by Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) and the Department of Agriculture, Sarawak in the University’s auditorium on 10 December 2014.
The participants will include researchers from Curtin Sarawak, the Department of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu, rice producers from ulu Lawas and ulu Baram, WWF-Malaysia, Ceria Sdn. Bhd., Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) and BERNAS.
The event will be a forum for discussion on selected aspects of an indicative plan for the development of a market for Northern Sarawak’s rice as a specialty high value/low volume product.
The range of discussion topics will include ‘What is highland rice?’, ‘An auditable supply chain for regulated and branded highland rice’, ‘Impacting influences and other plans’ and ‘SWOT analysis of the market for and marketing of rice from the northern highlands’.
Involving stakeholders in the rice production chain in the formative stages of a marketing plan will better ensure that the plan will be based on direct information from, and ownership of the plan by stakeholders. The outcome from the plan will be to enable the highland communities to achieve higher incomes through a premium price for a high quality highland rice indigenous to the region.
The forum is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Sarawak; Office of Research and Development (R&D), Curtin Sarawak; Samling Group of Companies; and Curtin Sarawak Research Institute (CSRI).
According to Professor Mienczakowski, the initiative to organise the forum stems from the university’s commitment to engaging with the community and transforming lives through leadership, innovation and excellence in teaching and research.
He said that Northern Sarawak’s highland rice, which is generically known as ‘Bario Rice’ even though its production extends beyond Bario and includes more than one variety, is truly unique in the world. It is indigenous to this region of Sarawak and Borneo and has unique characteristics, including the way it is cultivated, which could be branding strengths for the specialty rice.
Professor Clem Kuek, Dean of R&D at Curtin Sarawak and Director of CSRI stated that the forum is part of the University’s Rural Community Development Plan which seeks not only to develop and implement community-based renewal electricity and water supply for remote communities in ulu Lawas and Baram but also to raise community-based enterprises as secondary projects following the implementation of the electricity and water schemes.
Professor Kuek further commented that Curtin Sarawak’s collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Sarawak is an example of how success of the secondary projects depends on the combined efforts of various agencies working for the rural communities. He said that the Department of Agriculture, Sarawak has been a strong supporter of efforts to maximise the potential of highland rice for the producing communities.
“Through the Department’s research and promotional activities over the last two decades, rice from Bario has become well-known not only locally but also globally,” remarked Professor Kuek.