Friday, 13th July 2012 – United Malacca Berhad established an endowed Chair in oil palm plantation management with Universiti Putra Malaysia.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between United Malacca Berhad and Universiti Putra Malaysia was signed at Universiti Putra Malaysia by the Chairperson of United Malacca Berhad, Ms. Tan Siok Choo, and the Universiti Putra Malaysia Vice Chancellor, Yang Bahagia Dato’ Ir. Dr. Radin Umar Radin Sohadi.
Witnesses for the MOA were Dr. Leong Tat Thim, the Chief Executive Officer of United Malacca Berhad and Professor Mad Nasir Shamsudin, the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Under the MOA, United Malacca Berhad will provide an Endowment Fund of RM2,000,000.00 (Ringgit Malaysia Two Million) to fund the activities of the Chair.
To be named the “United Malacca Professorial Chair in Oil Palm Plantation Management”, the Chair will be set up in the Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia. The Professor appointed to the Chair will conduct and oversee research and development (R&D) activities in oil palm plantation management.
Major areas of R&D include but are not limited to the following:
- Identify genes that would make oil palms more resistant to Ganoderma disease and bud rot. Ganoderma is a fungus that causes disease and increases the acidity of the soil which could reduce the oil palm yield.
- Study the relationship between soil acidification due to long-term fertiliser application and the spread of Ganoderma.
- Identify ways to encourage oil palms to produce more female flowers and less male flowers.
- Optimise biosynthesis of oil in fruit bunches. This is the plant equivalent of finding health supplements to improve oil content in fruit bunches.
- Innovate rotary cutters that can harvest tall palms and also de-core bunch stalks.
- Design hand-held machine to identify high-yielding seedlings in a nursery.
Objectives of the United Malacca Professorial Chair include:
- Promoting R&D in all aspects of growing oil palms;
- Improving productivity in growing oil palms;
- Encouraging innovation in oil palm plantation management in Malaysia and overseas;
- Enhancing awareness among young Malaysians about the rapidly expanding career prospects in the plantation industry; and
- Highlighting United Malacca Berhad’s commitment to corporate social responsibilit
The Chair also aims to obtain global expertise to strengthen research and teaching in oil palm plantation management.
Given Malaysia’s major constraints of land and labour, R&D is vital if this country is to maintain its competitive advantage in the oil palm industry, particularly as more countries in the region and overseas also venture into growing oil palms.
United Malacca hopes this collaboration with Universiti Putra Malaysia will chart new directions in R&D for the oil palm industry in Malaysia.