UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director Regional of Asia and the Pacific visit to SBC and Kampung Semadang, Penrissen, Kuching

On 4 August 2022, Ms Kanni Wignaraja, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director Regional of Asia and the Pacific arrived in Kuching, Sarawak on an official visit that included a visit to the Semadang Village here in Penrissen. Semadang is one of the project sites funded by UNDP-MOF’s Orang Asli/Orang Asal Micro-Grant Facility for Conservation and Livelihood (OAMGF).

She was accompanied by officials from UNDP Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Mr Niloy Banerjee, UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Asfaazam Kasbani, Assistant Resident Representative (Programme), Ms Gan Pek Chuan, Head, Sustainable & Resilient Development, Ms Norhafiza Shafie, Development Economist, and Mr Edmund Chai Ming Lau, Project Manager from Sustainable & Resilient Development.

The delegates visited SBC’s facilities and was briefed on documentation of the plants used by the indigenous communities of Sarawak. The briefing includes current SBC’s research projects that are funded by UNDP.

The visit to SBC’s facilities includes tree planting ceremony where Ms Kanni Wignaraja planted the Engkabang Jantong tree (Shorea macrophylla) to commemorate the visit to SBC. This species is endemic to Borneo and can be locally found in mixed dipterocarp forest. The oil from the seed is known as ‘butter from the rainforest' or ‘vegan butter’ and is used in cosmetics products. Whereas Mr Niloy Banerjee planted the Engkerabai plant (Psychotria viridiflora). The plant is used to treat diabetes by the local community and studies showed this species has antidiabetic properties (Chen et al., 2021).

During her 2 days visit to Kuching, Ms Kanni Wignaraja also went to a site visit of the AdenoSara®️ project funded by UNDP at Kampung Semadang.

KK Austin Mapus, the headman of Kampung Semadang led a briefing on the Adenosma farm and the development of the AdenoSara®️ project, and Tuai Rumah Simon Kiai of Rh Simon, Lubok Antu, also highlighted the communities’ involvement in the project.

The AdenoSara®️ project pivots on the traditional knowledge of the communities on the shrub-like plant Adenosma nelsonioides. The plant emits a strong scent and was traditionally used to repel ticks from the communities’ domestic animals.

This project is Malaysia’s second Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement signed between Sarawak Biodiversity Council and the two communities in the year 2020. The agreement provides the communities an equitable sharing of benefits arising from the commercialization of the AdenoSara®️ products, as well as recognizing their indigenous right to natural resources and its associated traditional knowledge.

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