Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) signed the 3rd Benefit Sharing Agreement (BSA) with Melanau communities, witnessed by Yang Berhormat Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development. The ceremony marked the 3rd BSA in Sarawak and the whole of Malaysia.
The Benefit Sharing Agreement (BSA) was signed with the Melanau communities that involves a valuable plant species, the Madhuca motleyana, or commonly known by the locals as Sekiu. The communities involved are participants of SBC’s Traditional Knowledge Documentation Programme from Kampung Jemoreng Hulu and Kampung Jemoreng Hilir, Matu and Kampung Penibong, Pulau Bruit, Daro.
In his speech during the officiating ceremony for the SBC Biodiversity Day and the signing of the BSA, YB Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, asserted that the ABS agreement ensures the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the utilisation of Sekiu Oil.
He added, “Through this ABS agreement, the rights and knowledge of the local communities who have long relied on Sekiu, are respected and upheld. It also empowers the local communities, as well as preserving their cultural heritage and protecting the biodiversity”.
The BSA signing between Sarawak Biodiversity Council with the communities represents three-fold benefits to the participating indigenous communities in terms of recognizing and respecting the communities’ right to its biological resources and associated Traditional Knowledge, ensuring fair and equitable sharing of monetary and non-monetary benefits arising from the utilisation of biological resources and associated Traditional Knowledge, as well as, promoting the importance of biodiversity conservation.
The Sekiu oil is consumed by the Melanau community of Daro and Matu as food flavouring. The species is seasonal with fruiting season once every 4 years. It is reputed as a highly valued and exotic golden-coloured oil from Sarawak.
According to Sarawak Biodiversity Centre’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Yeo Tiong Chia, the scarcity of the oil derived from the fruits adds value to the product, making it a sought-after commodity in various industries.
He added, “This economic significance presents an opportunity to promote sustainable livelihoods, supporting local communities and fostering responsible trade practices”.