MoU SIGNING CEREMONY BETWEEN UMK AND KELANTAN BIOTECH
PILES OF SEASONAL LOCAL FRUITS INSPIRED UMK’S RESEARCHERS
PRODUCING NATURAL FRUIT VINEGAR DERIVED FROM RAMBUTAN AND DOKONG
FRUIT surplus is a common dilemma faced by local farmers in Kelantan during every fruit season, causing significant income loss owing to the increase in the number of unsold fruits. A group of Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) researchers from the Faculty of Agro-based Industry (FIAT) led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Seri Intan Mokhtar had endeavoured to mitigate the problem by inventing a vinegar product made from local fruits rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) and dokong (Lansium domesticum).
The product, named NefeliTM Natural Fruit Vinegar, has attracted the interest of Kelantan Biotech Corporation Sdn. Bhd. (KBC), an industrial biotechnology company based in Machang, Kelantan, to collaborate with UMK with a view to full commercialization. The MoU also indicated that both parties will look into other areas of collaboration such as creating opportunities for industrial postgraduate and training programme for staffs and students as well as developing joint production and innovation of potential downstream biotechnology product among other things.
Held on the 21st April 2016, the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UMK and Kelantan Biotech Corporation Sdn. Bhd. was hosted at UMK City Campus. It symbolizes the commitment of both parties to market local vinegar product domestically and internationally. The signing was done by UMK Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mortaza Mohamed and the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Kelantan Menteri Besar Incorporated (PMBK) and Director of KBC, YBhg.Tuan Haji Abdul Rashid Mohd Yusoff with the UMK Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Prof. Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim bin Che Omar and General Manager En. Wan Subki Wan Omar as witness.
In his welcome address, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mortaza lauded the invention by UMK researchers and deemed the product capable of benefitting the nation through innovation-driven economic growth, in line with the University’s mission to provide research and innovation with high commercial values.
Similarly, Tuan Haji Abdul Rashid Mohd Yusoff welcomed the commercialization effort with open arms seeing as vinegar is a sunnah food with a plethora of benefits. En. Wan Subki Wan Omar stated during the press conference that KBC has identified a suitable location in Machang for the production of the vinegar product. The prospective plant will take six months to be developed and is expected to begin operation in 2017.
Nefeli vinegar was a product of three years of research funded by the Global Entrepreneurship Research and Innovation Centre (GERIC) grant amounting to RM 1 million. According to Dr. Seri Intan, market research has proven that fruit-based vinegar has the capability to compete with artificial vinegar products in the market due to its health benefits such as high mineral and low fat content as well as being wholly made from pure fruit juice. She also added that the raw material is cheap and readily available.