By ILONA ANDREW
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is aggressively promoting automation and smart manufacturing in the furniture and wood-based industry.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal said the adoption of Industrial Relationship 4.0 in downstream activities will further increase value-added products with less cost, making the products more competitive.
“Sabah has an abundance of natural resources and we welcome more investments to realise the future vision of Sabah’s wood and wood-based industry. To boost further growth in this industry, Sandakan was announced as Sabah furniture centre.
“In 2018, 466 projects amounting to RM5.36 billion were approved in Sabah,” he said.
Shafie’s speech was delivered by State Minister of Infrastructure Development Datuk Peter Anthony at the launching ceremony of the 2019 Wood and Biofibre International Conference (WOBIC2019) on Tuesday.
The conference was attended by 197 delegates from scientific research, industry, and policy-makers from 13 countries. As the hosting country, Malaysia ranked first by its number of participants, followed by Korea, Indonesia, and India.
According to Shafie, forests in Malaysia are rich in timber which have contributed greatly to the Malaysian economy, particularly in Sabah, through logging and manufacturing sectors of the wood-based industry.
“In 2018, the exportation of major timber products has achieved a revenue of RM22.3 billion to Malaysia. From this amount, Sabah contributed 6.72 per cent or equivalent to RM1.5 billion,” he explained.
Plywood mills are the most dominant wood-based industries in Sabah as they are more adaptive and resilient to the changes in raw materials.
Malaysia is also granted a great variety of biofibres sources that are beneficial to a wide range of products such as oil palm empty fruit bunches, trunk and frond, pineapple leaves, coconut husk and kenaf.
“Amongst the three regions of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, Sabah has the biggest biomass potential.
“These can open up more investments to realise the future vision of Sabah’s wood and wood-based industry,” he asserted.
The closing ceremony also saw the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and the launching of ‘Lignocellulose for Future Bioeconomy’ – a book that discusses the conversion and utilisation of lignocellulosic biomass.