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By Khatijah Jistoh
SEMPORNA, June 24 (Bernama) -- Sabah wants to attract more investors, especially from abroad, to open a seaweed processing plant in the state, further developing the industry as a catalyst for local economic development.
Sabah Fisheries Department deputy director (development) Azhar Kassim said the Sabah seaweed industry has great potential with revenue from raw seaweed reaching RM50 million to RM60 million a year with productions of around 18,000 metric tonnes a year over the past three years.
“This is the current data on dried seaweed that we take. This data (income) can increase three to four times if we can process and export the seaweed,” he told Bernama in an interview.
He said currently, the commodity was exported in raw and dried form to China, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia which benefited about 1,200 entrepreneurs in Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu and Tawau.
Azhar said Sabah is being targeted by two potential investors from China as well as Peninsular Malaysia, which had a joint venture with European investors, to invest in the seaweed industry in the state.
He said the investors are currently conducting a study on the feasibility of developing the industry, including the “volume” of seaweed that could be obtained.
“These people have contacted the (fisheries) department with the intention to open a factory or take over an existing factory or a closed factory for them to try to develop.
“This matter is still at the research stage and we are indeed cooperating with interested investors. It is our hope for investors to open a factory...there are investors who have discussed with us, stating that they want to open a large factory in one district
Azhar said the establishment of the seaweed processing plant would provide added value and develop the commodity-based industry in Sabah, further contributing additional income to the national economy.
“If this factory can produce for semi refined carrageenan powder or even better, refined carrageenan, that is good enough because our seaweed exports have added value.
“As much as 90 per cent of the seaweed usage is for industries such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, only a little for the food industry,” he said.
He added that the establishment of the factory would provide employment opportunities to local people.
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