PENAMPANG (May 22): A total of 137 native plant species have been collected from 25 districts in Sabah under the Seed’s Spiritual Revival (SSR) programme.
The program aims to collect seeds or cuttings of food crops or any plants deemed useful to humans as herbs or medicines that are endangered or near extinction for the purpose of rebirth and regeneration .
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, said native plants are neglected despite their uses and importance in the local community, some of which are threatened with extinction, due to the race between breeders of plants from around the world to produce super varieties, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Therefore, Jeffrey said that he instructed the main committee of the Kaamatan festival at the state level to include SSR with the aim of reviving the native species in the form of seeds, cuttings or saplings.
He said the selection of seven plant species from each district shows the commitment of local communities based on “the seven united souls” which is in line with the ceremony of honoring the spirit of the paddy, Bambarayon, during the harvest festival.
“Seeds, cuttings or saplings harvested from the neighborhoods will be given to the next custodian to preserve the plants to prevent them from becoming extinct and develop their uses for future generations.
“Sabah Department of Agriculture is selected as the next custodian based on its functions and expertise,” he said at the launch of the SSR program in conjunction with International Biodiversity Day here on Sunday.
Jeffrey hopes the program will continue because there are many native plants in villages or forests that have not yet been exploited.
He also requested that the seeds taken from their original habitat be recorded and shared with the Sabah Biodiversity Center for future reference.
“All seeds for traditional use, such as medicines passed down from generation to generation, should be recorded orally with prior informed consent (PIC) to preserve community ownership and intellectual property,” said he added.
Meanwhile, SSR committee chairman Gundohing Janie [email protected] said the aim of the program was to identify, collect and preserve food crops or medicinal plants that are threatened with extinction.
At the same time, he hopes the program will instill a sense of ownership in local communities towards the plants that can be found in their respective neighborhoods and benefit them.
He hopes that the plant species collected and handed over to the Department of Agriculture as the next custodian will be preserved, propagated and further studied to develop the plants.
“The Department of Agriculture’s effort is in line with Malaysia’s National Plant Conservation Strategy, which plays a role in conservation activities for various plant species and as a gene bank for plants.”