By Syifarida Muhamad Zaki
Pic by Marina Ismail
PUTRAJAYA, 25 July (UPM) – All Cosmos Industries Sbd Bhd, a fertilizer manufacturer, has presented a RM5 million research contract award to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the Taiwan Chung Hsing University to come out with a green and sustainable fertilizer that can protect oil palm and rubber trees from diseases at the same time.
The award project encompasses the research and development of advance bacteriophage technology by decomposing empty fruit bunches (EFB) as an organic fertilizer where the microbes and bacteria are added to kill disease-causing fungi in rubber and oil palm plantations.
The research grant is a follow-up to the Memorandum of Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding signed between UPM and All Cosmos in November 2012.
UPM Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Fauzi Hj Ramlan said in his speech at the award presentation ceremony that the grant marked a significant milestone in UPM’s journey toward becoming a world class technological university of choice.
Through the award, he noted that All Cosmos Industries followed a unique way of merging naturally occurring beneficial microbes and biotechnological concepts to develop products for sustainable development.
“As for me, these projects have an important implication to the country, mainly because projects between UPM and external agencies or industries on bio-prospecting of our tropical rainforest diversity are examples of programmes in support of our Government’s interest in sustainable utilization of Malaysian genetic resources for bio-wealth creation whilst maintaining its perpetuity,” he said.
He also thanked Dato’ Tony Peng Shih Hao for the grant, saying that UPM is very much interested to work with All Cosmos on further research and development of affordable value-added products using bacteriophages and waste materials to cater for the environment and agricultural areas and for export.
Dato’ Tony Peng is a Taiwanese whose company, All Cosmos Industries Sdn Bhd, is a leading bio-organic and bio-chemical fertilizers manufacturer in the Pasir Gudang Industrial Zone of Johore.
All Cosmos is reputed to be the main suppliers of fertilizers to the palm oil and rubber estates in the country, like Felda and Risda.
Assoc. Prof Dr H’ng Paik San, a lecturer with the Forestry Faculty who is leading the research project in UPM, said they had shortened the composting period of EFB to 2 months from 6 to 9 months.
In this regard, the amount of organic fertilizers to be produced from 90 million tonnes of renewable biomass (EFB, trunks, fronds, shells etc) that are produced annually from the 5 million hectares of oil palm plantation in the country would be humongous.
Under the research plan, the organic fertilizers from EFB would be enhanced with bacteriophages (a cocktail of microbes, virus and bacteria cultured for the purpose) and the required chemical fertilizers for a complete food to the palm and rubber trees.
“With the application of biophage technology in the effective bio-chemical organic fertilizer, the bacteria commonly found in soil and water can act as controlling agents for any pest disease such as fungi outbreak in most Malaysian crops,” he said.
The organic fertilizers can retain enough moisture for the bacteriophages to thrive and feed on the fungi that can cause diseases to the palm oil and rubber trees.
That “perfect” fertilizers would take three to five years to upscale for the market, he added. – UPM