Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New strategy to reduce KK rat population

Kota Kinabalu: City Hall is looking into a new strategy to reduce the rat population in the city.

"We are re-examining and re-thinking our previous and current strategies," said Mayor Abidin Madingkir who officiated at City Hall's first in-house training on rat control for its staff here, Wednesday.

According to him, the programme is a continuation of a rat control programme, which was launched by City Hall in June last year, as well as a list of other programmes.

Madingkir who said the programme is aimed at their office based staff also pointed on the fact that rats roam the whole universe.

"They can be found everywhere even as far as Europe and in big cities such as London.

Exterminating them from the face of the earth is not possible, but we can work towards reducing their population."

He added that due to their unhygienic nature, rats are known to cause a lot of health problems as well as household problems, among them being electrical wire damage.

"It seems like people are so used to seeing them here and are so used to them that they are not even bothered by their presence," he added.

The training is therefore vital in order to spread awareness and educate City Hall staff.

Madingkir said it is like nurturing a seed and watering it everyday until it grows into a plant.

"Methods used to control them do not depend only on the extermination of their habitat alone, but also in providing a clean environment in general. Apart from that, improper food storage and keeping leftover food encourages them to breed."

"Problems related to these rodents which are notorious in offices have led us to conduct this special training.

"The programme is conducted to give proper awareness on rat control in the workplace environment.

"Before this, the target was entrepreneurs especially those involved with food around the city."

He also highlighted the fact that the responsibility of rat control must not be carried by City Hall's vector control unit alone but should be taken seriously by all City Hall staff.

Some 40 participants were present including invited guest Amir Paduan D. Daniel from Labuan Corporation's Town Service Department.

City Hall's Head of Public Health Danny Kok said the rat menace in offices is caused by food thrown inside uncollected rubbish bins.

Green Sabah says: Rats are still well-known carriers of over 70 diseases. From the transmission of bubonic plague to typhus and Hantavirus, rat infestations can prove harmful to human health.  One of the most dangerous rat-borne diseases is the bubonic plague and its variants. Transfer occurs when infested rats or rat fleas bite human beings. Symptoms include headache, weakness and coughing. Septicemic plague may result in bleeding into the skin and other organs. This fatal disease often kills within the same day that symptoms first appear.

Dr Maximus: Give accurate info on environmental issues

KOTA MARUDU: The media, formal and informal, have a responsibility to disseminate accurate information on environment issues which affect everybody.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the media, including social media which had a wide audience reach, must be accurate as wrong and misleading information could create a misinformed society.

The public, he pointed out, should also seek clarification and verify information with the authorities and experts as some information over the Internet was deliberately inaccurate to play on the people’s sentiment and opinion.

“This includes the issue of the Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng. Some crucial facts have been twisted by certain quarters through the use of the Internet and social media,” Dr Maximus said when closing the three- day Camp and Environment Education Programme held in conjunction with the World Forestry Day and Earth Day celebrations.

The event, held at the Mangrove Recreational Park at the Kota Marudu Forestry Complex included a camp participated by students from 11 schools in Kota Marudu and nearby Pitas, Kudat and Kota Belud.

It was organised by the state Forestry Department, Tourism Culture and Environment Ministry and Department of Environment.

Dr Maximus also said that efforts to conserve and protect the environment and nature must be a responsibility shouldered jointly by the government, NGOs, the people and the media.

Government agencies should disseminate to the public what they had done to conserve the environment so as to increase public awareness as well as public participation in protecting the Earth.

“They can maximise the use of the social media to disseminate this information, including through modern information technology such as websites, Twitter, blogs,” he said, adding that to date, Sabah had managed to preserve 60% of its land area as forest land. (PR)

Green Sabah says: Accurate information on environmental issue is vital. Through this information, the public will be more aware of what is happening with our environment. Inaccurate information will not only caused misunderstanding but will lead to more problems. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Special committee to tackle river pollution

Posted on April 20, 2012, Friday

PENAMPANG: A special task force will be set up to find the best way to tackle river pollution, especially in suburban areas of Kota Kinabalu city, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said the state cabinet ordered for the setting up of the committee following a study by the Environment Protection Department which found that Sungai Inanam, Sungai Likas and Sungai Darau were polluted.

“I’m quite alarmed by the finding; so it’s only proper for us to find ways to at least lessen the impact to the tourism industry,” he told reporters after opening SMK Peter Mojuntin’s “Hari Ekspo Lestari” — an environmental awareness programme.

Masidi said the setting up of the committee, which would convene its first meeting soon, demonstrated the government’s commitment to seeing the success of its urban cleanliness programme, which covers rivers in suburban areas.

He said that although there was an improvement in terms of cleanliness, particularly in Kota Kinabalu city, there was still much that could be done.

Masidi pointed out that main issue was educating the people on the need to keep the environment clean.

“We need to impress upon the people living in the hinterland that what you throw in the rivers is what we get in the town and what we get in the town is what the tourists will complain about. It is as simple as that,” he added.

Masidi in his speech pointed out that the commitment of a school and its students is very important when it comes to conservation of the environment.

“Cleanliness is part of environmental conservation,” he said, adding that conserving Sabah’s environment is very important as it is one of the reasons why tourists visit Sabah.

Masidi however lamented that one of the problems faced by the state’s tourism sector was environmental pollution as the rivers and sea are in a sorry state.

He said that the level of pollution of the state’s rivers and seas is at a worrying and critical level, and added that the cause is the lack of public awareness on the importance of having a clean environment.

Masidi also reminded the public that City Hall and the local authorities are not duty bound to clean them as it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the cleanliness of the state.

According to Masidi, he had received many complaints from tourists and most are about the cleanliness or lack of it in Sabah.

As tourism is one of the main contributors to the state’s economy, it is important to ensure that tourists will continue to visit the state because if they stop coming, the effect will be devastating to Sabahans.

“The tourism industry employs 90 per cent locals, most of whom will lose their jobs if tourists stop coming to Sabah. Others who will be affected are the taxi drivers and business community so we must not give the tourists reason to complain,” he stressed.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/04/20/special-committee-to-tackle-river-pollution/#ixzz1sYQAhfol

Green Sabah says: Water is a not a renewable resource anymore, experts believe that in a few years humans are going to be facing a major lack of clean water, making it crucial for our society to rethink our water usage and waste disposal methods and do something about them before is to late. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Orang utan need quality forests

Orang utan need quality forests

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - A wildlife study has reaffirmed the need for large swaths of forests for the orang utan to survive.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said the findings by Malaysian, British and Swiss researchers were further proof that the orang utan needed high-quality natural forests.
"Ultimately, a sufficient network of high-quality natural forest and dispersal corridors must be restored across Borneo and Sumatra to allow the orang utan to disperse naturally," he said.
"It is a big challenge; governments, industries and NGOs should work hand-in-hand to achieve it."
The study, conducted by researchers from the Institute of Anthropology in Zurich, Switzerland, Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) in Sabah and Cardiff University in Britain, was published in the scientific journal Molecular Ecology recently.
DGFC director Benoit Goosens said the findings showed that the male orang utan would traverse longer distances than the females.
This was based on faecal samples collected from male orang utan at seven sites in Borneo, including Kinabatangan South and North and Danum Valley in Sabah, and two in Sumatra.
"During a previous study published in 2006, a drastic decline in the orang utan population size was discovered, mostly due to habitat loss," said Goosens.

Green Sabah:  The government and Orang Utans definitely need to work hand in hand to ensure the wildlife protection are successful.

2012 to mark protection of sharks in Sabah

2012 to mark protection of sharks in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: This year will mark the protection of sharks in Sabah even though the shark ban is not in place yet, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
“When the law is passed, we will then discuss with the restaurant owners about the grace period they need to clear their stocks,” he said.
“We need to do it now. We need to conserve the sharks for our next generation to enjoy. We cannot take all and leave nothing to our next generation in the name of profit. In the next decade, if we do not conserve the sharks now, there will be nothing left for the fishermen to catch and restaurant owners to serve. By then, it will be too late,” Masidi pointed out to the JCI Tanjung Aru.
JCI Tanjung Aru member Evonne Chong (immediate past president), organising chairman JCI member Aderick Chong and members met Masidi during a courtesy call recently.
Also present were the permanent secretary of Masidi’s ministry, Datuk Michael Emban, Datuk Irene Charuruks of Sabah Tourism Board and Sitti Damsal of Sri Pelancongan Sabah as well as Peter Dikili, Arthur Lee and Christopher who support the protection of sharks. JCI Tanjung Aru took this opportunity to thank Masidi for his determination and persistence in making the law to protect sharks happen in Sabah.
After initiating the ‘Say No To Shark Fins’ awareness programme in 2011, together with 54 chapters of JCI Malaysia and many conservation groups around the world, JCI Tanjung Aru strongly supports and commends the minister for his effort to see the ban through.
JCI Tanjung Aru briefed Masidi on the launch of 2012: Sabah Protects Sharks which will be held on May 6 in Suria Sabah. This event will mark that Sabah protects its sharks in 2012.
In conjunction with this event, there will be an ‘Imperial Gourmet Soup Challenge’, where the alternatives to shark fins soup will be judged and the most outstanding soup on that day will be recognised by the ministry.
Masidi and his ministry were also briefed on the Concert for the Sharks towards the end of 2012 to raise funds to enable efforts to reach out to schools throughout Malaysia, starting with Sabah, to educate the importance of shark conservation to the school children.
All contributions to this cause will only be used for the effort. It is a non-profitable event. Sponsors and advertisers are encouraged to step forward to contribute to this good cause. Contact JCI member Aderick Chong @ 0168306828
Both events are endorsed by the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Culture.

Green Sabah says: Completely agreed with Datuk Masidi Manjun that we need to protect the Sharks for the future generation, hopefully the laws will be approved soon so that this will become a nationwide movement.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sabah hails funding for endangered species

KOTA KINABALU: Sime Darby, through its foundation, Yayasan Sime Darby has committed RM11.4 million to the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary at the Tabin Forest Reserves in Lahad Datu from 2009 until 2015.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun praised Yayasan Sime Darby and said Sabah welcomed funding from corporate bodies for the preservation and rehabilitation of endangered species in the state, specifically the Sumatran rhinoceros. He was speaking at the MSAM 2012 Sime Darby Rhino Walk held at the Likas Sports Complex yesterday.

He commented that such efforts should be commended as not many corporate entities are willing to give such a big commitment to causes which are not related or linked directly to the core of their business.

The project is a collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department and Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) to protect the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros.

Based on statistics, only 200 Sumatran rhinoceros are left in the world, out of which 30 are in Sabah and it is declared as one of 12 most endangered animals on earth.

The Sumatran rhinoceros is the world’s smallest rhino species, weighing between 500 to 700 kilograms with the height of 1.2 metres and it has two horns, in contrast to other species of the rhino family.

To some extent, Masidi said, this phenomenon contributes to the uniqueness of Sabah, which is famous for its beautiful natural environment.

Green Sabah says: Hope to see more cooperate bodies willing to fund the preservation and rehabilitation of endangered species in the state! It seems the awareness is getting increase among the people.

Monday, April 9, 2012

GE and Sabah firm said to be close to RM750mil geothermal plant deal

3 in green energy talks 1MDB

PETALING JAYA: 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and General Electric (GE) are among three companies currently in talks to develop the country's first geothermal plant in Apas, Tawau.
The third company in the venture, tagged at between RM750mil and RM800mil, is a Sabah-based green energy company which has inked a power purchase agreement with Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd.
Sources familiar with the project told StarBiz that the companies were in the final stage of negotiations and expected to reach a joint agreement soon, possibly end of the month.
The renewable energy plant, when fully completed, can generate a total capacity of 67MW, supplying electricity to Tawau's population of 398,000.
The emission-free geothermal plant will tap natural hot fluids from the ground for steam production to drive the steam turbine generator; it will generate 36MW under phase one and an additional 31MW under phase two.
When contacted, a 1MDB spokesperson said the company did not comment on speculation.
Following 1MDB's recent acquisition of Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd, CEO Shahrol Halmi had said it “signals the first step towards fulfilling the shareholder's aspiration for a more holistic eco-system to drive long-term energy security”.
According to the sources, GE will provide technical know-how, global expertise, equipment and technology.
GE is currently involved in Indonesia's biggest geothermal power plant, the Wayang Windu power plant, which taps into naturally occurring underground pockets of steam and hot water with wells as deep as three km.
In March 2011, Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup revealed that studies regarding the electricity generation potential of up to 67MW from geothermal resources discovered at a geothermal site in Apas had been completed.
Although a study by the Mineral and Geosciences Department was not a detailed one, the technical aspects indicated that the geothermal site in Apas had the potential to generate enough electricity to cater for the needs of the Tawau people.
The study also found a reservoir about 2,000m to 3,000m below the earth's surface with water at temperatures of 220-236 degrees Celsius. This heat was more than sufficient to generate electricity, Kurup had said after visiting the site.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said: “Malaysia's embracing of green technology is not only to conserve and preserve its resources, but is also envisaged to act as a new economic impetus for the country.”
The Prime Minister said the renewable energy target under the 10th Malaysia Plan was 5.5% of the total capacity mix in 2015 or 985MW of generating capacity, from less than 1% previously.

Green  Sabah says: Geothermal plant will be Sabah's future power generating method, since this is one of the environmental friendly ways for generating electricity effectively, the Sabah government will be utilizing this to fulfill the demands of the users within the states.

Sabah: Greening the power supply

Sabah: Greening the power supply

Asia | 28 Feb 2011

In a dramatic move on February 17, the state government halted bidding for a new 300-MW coal-fired power station in Lahad Datu, citing environmental concerns. Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman told local press that, “Sabah needs to increase power supply to meet the increasing development, but the state cannot afford to put its natural environment at risk.” He noted that protecting Sabah’s environment was crucial for the growing tourism sector, particularly given the state’s efforts to promote nature tourism.
The proposal to replace the old Lahad Datu facility with another coal plant was widely criticised both locally and internationally due to environmental concerns over the power source. Furthermore, the new plant was to be located on the shoreline, adjacent to the exceptionally biodiverse Coral Triangle and only 20 km from the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, home to several rare species of animals. However, with coal ruled out for future projects, natural gas expected to become an increasingly important part of Sabah’s energy mix. The state is working to boost power capacity, while also enhancing sustainability and environmental protection under Malaysia’s New Economic Model (NEM). With electricity demand expected to grow by an annual average of 7.7% until 2020, and supply shortages currently leading to occasional blackouts, the need for substantial investments in energy is clear and initiatives to increase supply are under way at the state and federal levels.
On February 21, national press reported that the state-owned energy giant Petronas and Tenaga Nasional, Asia’s largest electricity utility firm – also publicly owned – were working together to harness liquefied natural gas (LNG) for a replacement power project, potentially to be located near the city of Sandakan. Musa explained that utilising LNG would help tackle the state’s electricity problems and reduce the cost to Tenaga Nasional of subsidising diesel for power generation on the east coast, which he said was running to RM2m ($627,000) per day.
The state government’s proposal is to use LNG from a plant in Bintulu in the neighbouring Malaysian state of Sarawak, to Sabah’s south-west. The plan stems from a directive from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose government is putting an increasing emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection, as well as boosting the country’s energy capacity, particularly in Sabah.
While located in Sarawak, the Bintulu LNG plant sources its natural gas from fields off the coast of Sabah. The gas is transported through a 500-km, RM1.6bn ($524.82m) pipeline stretching from a terminal in Kimanis on Sabah’s west coast, where it is brought to land. Musa has suggested that the processed LNG could be shipped back to Sabah by sea to the proposed plant and that this would obviate the need for expensive new pipeline infrastructure.
Whatever decision is taken – and given the cost of new infrastructure and the incumbent federal and state governments’ preferences, shipping LNG from Bintulu seems to be the most likely option – the new plant will add much-needed capacity to the power grid in Sabah. With the government promoting the growth of manufacturing and tourism in the state, and with domestic demand on the rise, it is not expected to be the last such project.
Outside of local considerations, the decision to opt for a greener energy sources seems set to pay dividends abroad as well. Daniel Kammen, an energy expert at the University of California, Berkeley, who directed an energy and environmental impact assessment of the power plant project, described the decision to shift away from coal as “a turning point” and said that it would increase Malaysia’s opportunities to forge international partnerships at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties, set to be held in Durban, South Africa, in December.
Sabah is diversifying its energy mix further, with a strong focus on renewable sources, which account for around 3% of the generation for Sabah Electricity, compared to 0.5% nationally. In January, Musa said that the state aimed to become a renewable energy leader through investment in a number of projects. A RM280m ($91.84m) biomass plant is already under construction at the Lahad Datu palm oil industrial cluster. The project, developed by the state government-owned Palm Oil Industrial Cluster Sabah and a South Korean consortium, will run on oil palm waste. This is expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as serve as a model for further clean energy development in Sabah and South-east Asia, according to Musa.
In its efforts to meet rising energy demands, Sabah is demonstrating flexibility and the ability to think creatively to address local problems with local resources. This may give it an extra edge as it seeks the investment needed to expand capacity.

Green Sabah says: Sabah does need to increase power supply and yet not affect the environment. The biomass plant from the palm oil waste will be good to recycle the waste created during the palm oil processing cycle for power generation. Hopefully it goes well.

Musa Aman: Biogas Project Gives Positive Image for Oil Palm Industry

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman is confident that the biogas project being explored by the plantation sector in the state, can create a positive image for the oil palm industry.

He said it would be seen as an environment friendly industry which gave serious consideration to the protection of the environment.

He said the technology for biogas production from oil palm waste was not just environment friendly but also helped in the electricity generation for the plants and in the process, reduce the dependency on fossil fuel which is a source of air pollution.

“Previously, the disposal of waste from oil palm and the oil palm mills, posed a lot of problems for us. Now, it has become a source of electricity,” he added.

Musa said this in his speech while officiating the opening of the Biogas Plant at the Sawit Apas Balung mill owned by Kumpulan Sawit Kinabalu here yesterday.

The biogas plant project is the first for Kumpulan Sawit Kinabalu, a state government agency, and in line with its aim to create sustainable wealth while taking into consideration the protection of the environment in economic operations.

Musa, who is also the Finance Minister, said the state government was committed to development without sidelining environmental protection.

“We hope this commitment will receive strong support from oil palm plantation companies in Sabah,” he added.

He also hoped that more companies would explore the production of environmental friendly energy and at the same time, contribute to the renewable energy sector in the state.

“We need to be more creative and innovative to continue the quest for new ways to drive the search for energy from sources which were previously considered useless,” he added. — Bernama

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/03/02/biogas-project-gives-positive-image-for-oil-palm-industry-says-musa/#ixzz1pWaTcl1t
Green Sabah says: Biogas plants significantly lower the greenhouse effects on the earth's atmosphere. The plants lower methane emissions by entrapping the harmful gas and using it as fuel. Besides that, biogas by itself can positively affect the economy of rural areas.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Global warming makes need for dams crucial: Pairin

Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said global climate change will affect water resources and inevitably water supply in Sabah in the future.
To prove his point, he said the El Nino extreme weather conditions between 1997 and 1998 caused a severe drought in the State.
Hence, when the State Government suggested building dams, it was thinking about the future to ensure there is sufficient infrastructure to store water that can sustain for a long period of time.
"In fact, the country has been talking about rain harvesting and storage and also building more reservoirs," he told a press conference after officiating the State-level World Water Day Conference and Exhibition 2012 at Pacific Sutera Hotel.
Even the Prime Minister, he said, is vigorous about the issue in that Malaysia has to reduce its carbon emission so that the nation's air quality would be reverted to the level it was in the 1970s.
Having said that, he said climate change is a very serious aspect of the entire scenario to the extent that people have been urged not to purchase products that could release harmful gases into the environment.
The scenario is also serious for both the government and ordinary people to realise it because there is a Water Resources Management Enactment and council, which was brought into existence to make people realise that we all have our respective responsibility where water is concerned.
"Even farmers and the young and old (are responsible)Éso, the more we realise the importance of our respective role, we will be able to activate our management activities to ensure that we don't waste water as well as to manage and maximise water uses," he said.
Overall, he said it is part of the efforts to minimise the impact of global warming.
While global warming is generally the duty of experts including scientists to overcome and address, Pairin said it is possible that the El Nino phenomenon would occur again.
The abnormal occurrences across the globe such as extreme weather, he said, keep indicating to humans that it can happen again.
He said it is envisaged that 10 years from now, global temperatures will rise by two or three degrees.
"And when this happens, ice in the North and South Poles and the Himalayas will melt and this will cause a rise in sea levels," he said.
In this respect, everyone should strive to play their respective roles.
"Together, we shall and will strive to provide clean water for drinking and for the food industry, dispose of wastes, generate electricity, irrigate crops, and reduce the risks of floods and droughts," he said.
The phenomenon of global warming should be taken seriously by all parties to ensure the physical and human environment is not affected too greatly, he said. 

Green Sabah says: Hopefully the State government will make the best decision to ensure Sabah's future especially in the case of long term water storage.

Sabah: Bearing fruit

Sabah: Bearing fruit

Asia | 29 Mar 2011

With Sabah’s leaders increasingly prioritising agricultural land and resources as a driver of economic growth, the state’s fruit and vegetable industry looks set for a growth surge in the months ahead.
On March 8, state news agency Bernama quoted the deputy chief minister of Sabah, Yahya Hussin, as saying he hoped to see the state producing more of its own agricultural produce as well as increasing exports to global markets. Yahya, who is also Sabah’s minister of agriculture and food industry, said during a visit to the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) that Sabah’s large tracts of abandoned and undeveloped land have great potential to increase the state’s agricultural production.
“The products are there in neighbouring countries, such as the Pamelo fruit from Sabah that is exported to Brunei and Singapore, but they are not enough. According to the FAMA briefing, our local products are still not able to meet the demand from overseas,” Yahya said. He made similar comments in February, saying that to meet increasing international demand – chiefly from Europe and the Middle East – Sabah needs to double its production of fresh and value-added pineapple for export. He cited 2009 statistics indicating that Sabah has a cultivated pineapple-growing area of 1066 ha, and that it exports pineapple worth RM14,240 ($4695) per ha per year to Sarawak and Brunei.
An announcement in early March by Del Monte Philippines that it is planning a large organic pineapple plantation covering 15,000 ha of land in Sabah and Sarawak was therefore welcomed by state leaders and the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB). MPIB’s director-general, Sahdan Salim, told local news outlets that the deal was expected to be finalised this year, and that Sabah and Sarawak were chosen because they have suitable tracts of land for large-scale pineapple farming. The project, which will involve extensive contract farming, should create a number of job opportunities for locals.
Malaysia exported RM78m ($26m) worth of canned and fresh pineapples in 2010, and this figure is expected to reach RM100m ($33m) this year, Salim said. Global imports of tropical fruit such as pineapple, papaya, melon and star fruit increased by a compound annual growth rate of almost 10% between 2001 and 2007.
Malaysia’s location in the tropical belt and its annual average rainfall of 2000 mm make it an ideal location for farming premium tropical fruit. Western consumers have a growing taste for tropical fruit, with the EU’s annual consumption of papaya and pineapples increasing by 8% and 16% respectively over the past five years. While it follows that market opportunities for selling fresh tropical fruit are there for the picking, those in the industry complain about the Malaysian agriculture sector’s lack of a demand-driven approach.
One concern is that markets such as the EU demand pesticide-free, environmentally sustainable produce, and Sabah’s farmers have not yet embraced this type of farming. Issues of scale and shortcomings in terms of agricultural best practice and integration have also hampered the state’s ability to tap into high-value export markets for fresh fruit and vegetables.
The average fruit farm size in Sabah is 1 ha, with fruit farmers earning an average of RM1860 ($613) per month, with this including governmental support of around RM250 ($82) per tonne. With rural areas accounting for 35% of Malaysia’s population and agriculture supplying almost 44% of rural jobs, improving agriculture productivity is seen as a vital step to closing the rural-urban income gap, which in 2009 was 1:1.82.
Promoting growth in the agricultural sector is therefore high on the government’s list of long-term priorities. Incentives for farmers and investors are laid out in the government’s Economic Transformation Programme, which is made up of various National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs). The Agriculture NKEA highlights three main goals: increasing gross national income (GNI) contribution by RM28.9bn ($9.5bn) to RM49.1bn ($16.2bn) in 2020, more than double the sector’s current size; creating 74,600 job opportunities, most of which will be in rural areas; and raising participating farmers’ incomes.
The Agriculture NKEA offers 16 entry point projects (EPPs), or business opportunities, meant to jump-start the sector. Produce comes under EPP 7, which calls for upgrading the capability to produce fruit and vegetables for high-value export markets and creating contract-farming clusters. To achieve greater economies of scale, existing farms will be modernised and act as contract farmers for larger anchor companies. Around 9000 ha of oil palm plantation land has been identified for intercropping of banana and pineapple during the oil palm replanting period.
If successful, the result would be high-quality fruit and vegetables that comply with food safety standards, allowing access to high-value markets in the Middle East and Europe. Increased export market penetration would enable Sabah’s farmers to charge higher prices for their produce, raising incomes to an estimated RM4500 ($1484) per ha. In all, the EPP is expected to contribute RM1.6bn ($528m) to Malaysia’s GNI and create 9100 jobs by 2020.
Globalisation has opened up the world to international cuisine, resulting in increased demand in developed markets for a growing range of foods. As people around the world develop cravings for fare such as pineapple curry and papaya salsa, Sabah looks well placed to help meet this demand – and profit from it.

Green Sabah says: The Sabah government has always been supportive to boost the agriculture sector in Sabah as  they are concern about providing food security to the state and people. The government will be utilizing the use of biotechnology in order to improve agriculture in Sabah. 

Musa: RM703mil invested in commercial seaweed cultivation

KOTA KINABALU: Investments in commercial seaweed cultivation in Sabah has, todate, amounted to RM703 million, providing jobs to 13,000 people, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

He said this was made possible by the burgeoning seaweed industry in the northern and eastern coasts of Sabah.
“In these areas, waters are ideal for seaweed cultivation and this crop, traditionally consumed by coastal communities, has now been identified as an important component of the National Key Economic Area for Agriculture,” he said in his opening speech last night at the International Conference on Food Science and Nutrition.
Musa said biotechnology, which was poised to drive the next wave of knowledge-based industries, was a powerful tool in addressing food security and hunger.
“Biotechnology can be used to boost supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food,” he said.
In this respect, he hoped there would be more scientific discoveries and innovations, including in the biotechnology sector, to improve crop yield and enhance the food sector. — BERNAMA

Green  Sabah says:There is a high potential for the Seaweed industry, and its great that the Sabah government is supporting smallholders in this industry. Hopefully the biotechnology will work to improve the food security to prevent our people from going hungry.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sepa launches 'Sustainable Organic Farming' projects

Sepa launches 'Sustainable Organic Farming' projects

Kota Marudu: Sepa (Sabah Environmental Protection Association) has launched a "Sustainable Organic Farming" project to share organic farming techniques with farmers throughout Sabah in conjunction with its "Green Vision" to make Sabah an organic food producer.
"That way they can change the current way of farming using chemicals and pesticides. The pioneer projects are in Kg Batutai, Kota Marudu and Kg Tambuatuon, Kota Belud," said its president Wong Tack.
Wong, together with some committee members and keen followers were at Kg Batutai, Kota Marudu and joined the three farmers who harvested their organic crops joyfully.
He said early results are very positive and they are still monitoring the situation to fine-tune and improve on it.
Wong feels with climate change looming, the whole world will face food security problems.
But Sabah, he feels, is fortunate to still have good soil, suitable weather and relatively good environment and therefore has a huge potential to become an organic food production region.
Sepa has also introduced organic paddy farming in Kg Tambatuon where the results are also positive.
Wong hopes to make Kg Tambatuon in Kota Belud an organic rice-production centre.
Sepa hopes the successful pioneer projects will encourage more and more farmers in Sabah to join its programme, so that they can set up organic farms throughout the State and promote organic farming, to produce organic vegetables and rice for the people of Sabah.
Organic farming, Wong stressed, not only is good for our health, but at the same time protects our environment because at the end of the day, the chemicals that we use for farming will go into the river and water resources.

GreenSabah says: Good move from the Sabah Environmental Protection Association for trying to make Sabah an Organic Food Producer, hopefully this Sustainable Organic Farming will work out.

Use a portion of Dept land for settlement: MP

Use a portion of Dept land for settlement: MP

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government has been urged to consider reviewing the 200-acre State land provided to the State Human Resource Development Department in Kundasang, Ranau and take out a portion of it for providing a new settlement for villagers affected by landslides or those at risk.
Ranau Member of Parliament Datuk Siringan Gubat, in making the call, also highlighted the need for a comprehensive or detailed study to be carried out on Kundasang, as had also been suggested by the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa), that can provide proper short, medium and long-term solutions.
He said reviewing the status of the said land, which has remained undeveloped since given to the department (previously known as Sinar) during the Berjaya-led State Government era decades ago before being handed over to Insan (the government training institute), can be one of the solutions.
"I hope the State Government can give due consideration to this, considering this concerns the livelihoods of Malaysian citizens whose lives are at risk.
I see no harm to take out a portion of the 200 acres for the purpose of opening a new settlement for those affected (by landslides), as after all, there seems to be no plan on the part of the government agency concerned to utilise it," he said.
He was confident that with proper planning and development direction, the opening of a portion of the said land for a new settlement for the affected villagers can be done without any problem or harm to the environment.
The said land has been in the centre of controversy recently after a group of villagers reportedly encroached into it, just a small portion of the total area located between the Desa Cattle and Dream World Resort, and cleared it for starting up a new settlement there.
The villagers concerned claimed they are from several villages in Kundasang looking for a place to build their new homes because they were threatened by landslides.
They claimed they have no other choice but to look for a new place which is stable and safe. They could not wait any longer. The villages were reported as Kampung Lembah Permai, Dumpiring, Desa Aman, Sinisian, Giman and Kundasang Lama.
"After I have visited the areas and talked to the people concerned, I decided to be on their side on this matterÉbut for the new settlement, what needs to be made sure is that it only involves those truly affected by landslides," said Siringan.
On another note, Siringan also supported the suggestions, including by Sepa, to the State Government to do a comprehensive study on Kundasang which can help in providing a complete solution particularly to the landslide problem there.
Sepa (Sabah Environmental Protection Association) had on April 19 called on the State Government to do a comprehensive strategic environmental study on Kundasang, which it described as one of the State's environmentally-sensitive and economically important areas.
The association also wants the Government to set up a stakeholders committee involving all the relevant government departments and agencies as well as related organisations and associations.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister-cum-Keranaan Assemblyman Datuk Masidi Manjun, on the other hand, had also asked Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) if it is possible for it to do a research on how to mitigate the landslide problem in Kundasang and how the community could be taught very simple ways to mitigate the problem and at least stabilise the land movement there.
A team from UMS is reported recently to be going to a village in this area to help educate the community there on the environmental aspects.
Siringan said his visits and communications with the villagers in Kundasang showed the villagers actually are well aware of the importance of looking after their surrounding environment, particularly when landslides in Kundasang are not new to them, so the important thing is for UMS to assist in doing the comprehensive study.
"UMS should be the proper institution to do the needed comprehensive study on Kundasang.
I think this is more important than just going to the villagers there and to teach them on the environmental aspects," he said.
The latest major landslide occurred in Kundasang Lama in early May this year, which damaged 22 houses and forcing 100 people from 36 families to be evacuates from their homes.
It also destroyed some of the chalets at the Zen Garden Resort.


Green Sabah says:Hope that the MP's suggestion to take out a portion of the 200-acre land in Kundasang to provide settlements to villagers whose houses are affected by the landslides.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Makers state their case on the plastic bags ban

Makers state their case on the plastic bags ban
By: Lim Kok Boon

WE refer to the various articles arising from the Penang State government's decision to extend the "ban/tax" on plastic bags from three days to seven.
The Malaysian Plastics Forum (MPF)/Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) are disappointed as we believe the State authorities are influenced by several common misconceptions about plastic bags with statements like:
- "Plastic bags are bad because it is not degradable";
- "A ban will encourage the use of reusable bags";
- "Other materials, like paper, are better for the environment"; or
- "Plastic bags are the cause of littering".
Many wrongly consider plastic bags to be "harmful" because it does not degrade.
The sad truth is degradation in the presence of oxygen causes the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas (GHG) that causes global warming.
Degradation in the absence of oxygen, such as anaerobic respiration, is even worse because methane gas, which is 22 times more harmful than CO2 as a GHG, is released.
We quote this statement from the Australian Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts:
- "Our consultancy report, 'The Impact of Degradable Plastic Bags in Australia', found that there is probably little benefit obtained by using biodegradable plastics if you dispose them to landfills.
This is because microorganisms cannot survive the dry, oxygen-deprived conditions normally found in landfills. All sorts of biodegradable materials, including food and paper, have been found "mummified" and preserved in such conditions. Even if the degradable materials degrade, the low oxygen level means that they release methane as they break down - a potent greenhouse gas".
- "Plastic bags that are commonly replaced by degradable plastics actually make up a small amount (by volume) of the waste going into landfills, and most plastics are inert and do not contribute to toxic emissions or leaching."
The non-degradation of plastic bags represents a form of carbon capture (carbon sequestration).
It is therefore an irony many are harping on the issue of degradation, which releases CO2 or methane gas, only to see millions of dollars being spent on "Carbon Capture and Storage" programmes (International Energy Agency www.iea.org/Papers/2009/CCS_Roadmap.pdf).
San Francisco banned plastic retail bags in 2007 to, inter alia, encourage the use of reusable bags.
A 2008 survey (www.use-less-stuff.com) found few switched to reusable bags.
Instead, large amounts of paper bags, many with double bagging, were issued, causing an even greater environmental impact.
Compared to a paper bag, a plastic bag consumes 71 per cent less energy during production, generates 68 per cent less GHG emissions, and uses less than six per cent of the water needed to produce paper bags.
In addition, plastic bags create 80 per cent less solid waste, and use 90 per cent less energy to recycle.
Littering is a behavioral problem. San Francisco commissioned a Streets Litter Re-Audit in 2008 which showed plastic retail bags as a composition of total large litter increased from 0.60 per cent, before the ban, to 0.64 per cent after. Plastic bags are thus a very small component of total large litter and the ban did not reduce this composition.
Even if plastic bags are not used during the purchase stage, a plastic bag is still needed for disposing garbage. In the absence of plastic bags, consumers will have to pay for garbage bags.
The cost of a regular size plastic bag is 4 sen while the selling price of a medium-size garbage bag is 40 sen. This will only cause hardship to the poor.
Garbage bags are comparatively thicker and require more energy and resources to produce.
Shopping bags have handles which allow easy tying of the bag for garbage disposal.
A garbage bag uses more plastic material as the top part of the bag does not have a "cut-off".
Consequently, more, not less, plastics actually end up in the landfill.
To judge the impact of a material on the environment, it is necessary to measure all the parameters right from the source of the raw material ("cradle") up to its end of life ("grave"), that is, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Plastic bags, whether in terms of the total energy used, fossil fuel used or greenhouse gas emission, has the best LCA compared to other packaging materials.
The wise use of plastic bags is to only take what is required (REDUCE); using the same plastics bag at both the purchase and disposal stage (REUSE); and returning any excess (RECYCLE).
They will benefit both consumer and the environment. Our proposal is to set up a workgroup based on the 3Rs model (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) with all stakeholders working together.
The Penang authorities should put in place stronger mechanisms to punish littering altogether, and increase the collection and recycling of all materials, including plastics. We call upon the State government to urgently adopt the 3Rs model as an integrated and holistic approach that would not only benefit the environment but also not burden the rakyat.
The 3Rs model, in place of the ban/tax model, needs to be given a chance to work!


GreenSabah says: This is a good initiative from the State government to encourage the people to use less plastic bags. Hope to see more Sabahans making the efforts to bring their own shopping bags while shopping.

Panel will boost 'FD' prospects

Panel will boost 'FD' prospects
By: Tan Sri Herman Luping

THE BN government's policy of 1Malaysia, People's First and Performance Now became a reality in Sabah last week when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak decided to listen to the call by Sabahans to scrap the proposed coal-fired power plant in the East Coast.
There was jubilation all around and praises were heaped on both the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman for their forward-looking decision on the matter.
Musa himself explained in his speech at the Gerakan Chinese New Year open house held in a major hotel that he was very pleased when the Prime Minister finally made up his mind to scrap the coal fired power supply.
Gas fromBintulu, Sarawak, would be used for the purpose.
Environmentalists and other NGOs have been quick to praise the Chief Minister for his hand in getting the Prime Minister to change his mind concerning the use of coal to generate power in Lahad Datu and the East Coast.
Musa himself said that the fauna, the flora, the wild animals and also the pristine sea of Darvel Bay are all saved from the harmful effects of coal.
A letter writer to the Daily Express's Sunday Forum suggested that the Chairman of Tenaga Nasional, Tan Sri Leo Moggie should resign from his post for putting profits for his company first and endangering the environment in the East Coast of Sabah.
For now, Sabah is one State that is a shining example where the environment is considered more important than the production of power by the use of coal.
Many countries today who use coal to generate power are suffering from the effects of the devastation and pollution to the environment caused by coal generated power.
The countries are China, the United States and Australia.
They are gradually shutting down their coal-fired power plants in favour of more environmental-friendly power plant as a result.
The coal-fired power plants have emitted large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere thus aiding and assisting in the problem of climate change.
Sabahans, therefore, are grateful that their environment is safe.
And as Musa said, Sabahans know how to return the great favour when the time comes.
After all, he said, Sabah is a "fixed deposit" of the BN government and indeed would continue to be one for a long time. (Musa has indeed shown his leadership qualities in the last two general elections of 2004 and 2008.
The decision to listen to the peoples' views and opinion by adopting the policy of Peoples First slogan in respect of the need to preserve the environment would be seen by the people that the BN Government is genuine to place the peoples' interest first.
There is another issue that the people of Sabah are asking the Federal government leaders to consider and that is the call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the presence of the large number of illegal immigrants in Sabah and equally large number of illegal granted Malaysian Identity cards.
Sabah leaders - from both sides of the political divide - have been very vocal for the call for the government to set up the RCI.
Amongst the first leader to call for the RCI was Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, the Federal Minister of Plantations and also the president of the KadazandusunMurut Party, Upko.
He was followed closely by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin, who is also the President of the PBS as well as the Huguan Siou of the Kadazandusun indigenous community.
(Upko's deputy president, Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing also joined in the call for the setting up of RCI and warned that this issue could harm the BN image at the next election.
Opposition leaders too have also joined in the call for the same.
The reason why these leaders are calling for the RCI is because the people in Sabah wanted it.
They wanted the debacle of the Identity Cards and illegal immigrants given citizenship solved immediately.
These leaders are only listening to the call by their supporters.
And in the case of Bernard, there is an added reason for his focus on the RCI call.
He was made the Chairman of the Select Parliamentary Committee to look into problems of integrity and the IC debacle; but the committee was not getting much support from the civil servants.
And the last straw for him was the continued absence of officials from the National Registration department.
They kept on making excuses for not attending.
And the issue to be discussed in the agenda was about the IC problem in Sabah.
No point in having the committee, he said and so he resigned from it.
Their supporters and indeed the people of Sabah wanted to know the reason/reasons for issuing the identity cards to the illegal immigrants from the Southern Philippines, who are mostly Bajau and Suluk.
Let me make it clear at the outset that a large number of Sabahans are descendants of ancestors from outside the State.
These ancestors are Suluks, Bajaus, Bruneis and Chinese and many more.
Today, the population of Sabah is roughly divided into two types of indigenous communities: the original indigenous - the Kadazandusun Murut and Brunei Malays and the immigrant indigenous, the foreigners.
And of course the Chinese. The original indigenous have been in Sabah for a thousand years; the immigrant indigenous and Chinese came over 200 years ago. They have become part of the country and are identified as "momogun" in the Kadazandusun language.
Until two years ago, the first original indigenous, Kadazadusun Murut were the largest single community in the State. But since the constitutional amendment was made to make all new converts to Islam and who live as the Malays, a choice to call themselves Malays, many have done so.
Besides, the addition of thousands of the former illegals from the Southern Philippines having Malaysian identity cards. The biggest single community in the new demography of Sabah are now the Malays.
This is not the chief concern by the Sabah leaders from both sides of the political divide.
The concern is the likely shift of loyalty from predominantly British colonial orientation in Malaysia to Filipino orientation.
The fear is that a future Chief Minister could very well have a strong affiliation with the Philippines, particularly with the Muslim-Filipino south.
These leaders remind us that we joined in the formation of Malaysia because we shared British colonial experience.
The British wanted to dismantle their colonial administration but they also wanted to continue their influence in the region - through friendship and club association.
This club is known as the Commonwealth whose head is still the Queen of Britain.
The British simply lumped us together with Malaya and became the State number 12 under the new nation name, Malaysia, replacing Malaya.
Indeed, for more than 200 years, our orientation was with Whitehall in London and the common laws of the British were also adopted.
We had a common and historical link with the British.
The Philippines meanwhile was orientated towards, first, Madrid in Spain, and later, the White House in Washington before that country became independent.
The fear then is that we might become part of a nation which is alien to us, alien to our historical beginning.
The fear, too, is that this shift in orientation might bring disability in the governance of our State .
Thus far, after nearly 50 years in Malaysia, the State has grown from strength to strength in political stability, as a democratic country and also in our economic development.
We do not want this to be jeopardised and hence the call for the RCI to the government in Kuala Lumpur.
Let the leaders in KL and in Sabah also look at this request as part of the Peoples' First, Performance Now policy.


GreenSabah says: Thanks to the government for listening to the people's plight, our voices are heard.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Care for the nature

A campaign to create environmental awareness is gaining momentum although some consumers appeared not too keen on doing their bit.

Several ventures to help create a healthier environment and ensure its sustainability have met with some encouraging results.

The Malaysian government is hoping to ensure greater success in keeping the landscape not only intact but also enhanced.

For starters, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) has planted exactly 1,000 trees under the country’s first ever environmental programme for business tourism.

The campaign, aptly named “Let’s Meet & Green”, was launched by MyCEB in November 2011 in support of the government’s commitment to offset carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.

This programme was launched in line with the Tourism Ministry’s “1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean” campaign. Under this programme, participants contribute a minimum of RM31.

The contributions will be channelled to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) for its tree-planting activity. This is part of an overall strategy being formulated by the government to ensure that there is a steady decline in the amount of carbon emissions until 2020.

The 1,000 trees planted came from the contributions of the 18th World Congress of Accountants 2010 (600 trees), Institute of Internal Auditors Association International Conference 2011 (250), Malaysia Meetings Innovation Day 2011 (100) and MyCEB’s internal staff (50).

Early this year, 25 MyCEB’s employees, accompained by FRIM representatives, gathered at FRIM in Kuala Lumpur for a tree-planting activity and the installation of a plaque. The event is among a number of activities lined up by MyCEB for this year to plant more trees around the country.

MyCEB CEO Zulkefli Sharif said that by participating in this campaign, planners and event organisers can leave a lasting environmental legacy in Malaysia by preserving, conserving and protecting nature.

Zulkefli hopes to plant thousands more trees in the future as part of efforts to educate business partners about this campaign.

Reducing plastic bags

However, in Sabah, a green campaign launched last year to reduce the use of plastic bags has fallen short of its target.

Kota Kinabalu City Hall had launched the “No Plastic Bag” campaign with the noble intention of protecting the environment, convincing 225 outlets to join in to raise public awareness in cutting down the use of plastic bags.

Under the campaign, customers were encouraged to bring their own shopping bags, and would be charged 20 sen by participating outlets, for each plastic bag used on a Monday. Later, it was extended to include Saturdays and Sundays.

However, Kota Kinabalu residents were not too keen on curtailing the use of plastic bags judging from the high number of the bags purchased, said Mayor Abidin Madingkir.

Abidin added that this showed environmental awareness is very low in the city and he appealed to all residents to participate vigorously in the campaign.

As adviser to the KK Environmental Action Centre, Abidin said KK City Hall would strive to persuade business operators to join in the campaign including night market hawkers.

KK City Hall hoped to meet the participating outlets to discuss problems faced by them in implementing the campaign, including dealing with customers who were upset at having to pay for the plastic bags.

Change for the better

Back to the Peninsula, students of SMK Bandar Sunway Special Class Alumnus were overjoyed to paint green-themed murals in their classrooms using paint sponsored from a paint company, Mr Paint Man Sdn Bhd. The students were doing their bit for the environment.

The students painted eight classrooms in striking colours such as Bloo Blue, Dino Rex, Stitch, Pink Panther and Sweet Lilo.

This initiative was organised in conjunction with the official launch of the “Paint a Greener Future for Our World” campaign by Mr Paint Man.

Under this programme, Mr Paint Man will continue to collaborate with various schools to provide them with a sustainable, healthy and hygienic environment.

These initiatives are a good start on educating and creating awareness of the environment. But more Malaysians should make it a point to learn and participate in these programmes.

Only then will these initiatives bear fruit. Only then will there be a change for the better in the environment and Malaysians can look forward to an enhanced quality of life.

Christopher Fernandez has been teaching and writing throughout Asia since 1984.

Source: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/03/27/a-good-start-to-care-for-nature/

Green Sabah says: It is quite disappointing to find that awareness campaign about the use of plastic bags has not received encouraging response from the community. Authorities and NGOs must do more to bring awareness to the public. Emphasis on the importance of protecting the environment should be taught from the school. Early exposure could bring awareness to the younger generation. We are able to change it.