Bamboo pellets will be added to Malaysia’s future energy mix after Sarawak signed heads of agreements with several timber companies, dramatically increasing its bamboo production.
According to Sarawak Deputy Premier, Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, “the state-owned Sarawak Timber Development Corporation will supply a raw material to Permata Ferroalloys (one of the businesses involved) to complement wood charcoal (biomass) and to encourage the local community to work in bamboo production.”
As part of the agreement, the state-owned Sarawak Timber Development Corporation and Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) will supply bamboo pellets to local businesses, a source of biomass, as part of the state’s commitment to decarbonise.
“Bamboo pellets can be similarly used like charcoal,” the Deputy Premier said, “coal is a hydrocarbon, whereas pellets are a fibre.”
The agreement is the first of its type and is part of Malaysia’s push to become a global hub for bamboo production.
In June, Sarawak released its post-COVID-19 Development Strategy for 2030, which targeted cultivating 10,000 hectares of commercial bamboo production to be managed by Rich Venture Plantation.
At the time, Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg said the challenge was to “develop more land for bamboo plantation.”
Bamboo has been likened to sago palm, which is easy to grow and can complement other raw resources such as timber to generate income.
“If we plant a lot of them, they will multiply quickly, and they can be used as raw material for us to manufacture or create downstream products,” he said.
The Premier also stressed the importance of research and called on STIDC and its partners to conduct regular studies to pave the way to drive innovation to the state.
Globally, investment in bamboo is booming.
In August, Forest giant Plantations International announced that it was widening its mix of forest investments to include bamboo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The company is actively developing commercial bamboo plantations in various parts of the world.
These locations include Indonesia, Colombia, Kenya, and Brazil.
The company has made significant investments in the development of bamboo for various purposes.
According to Premier Johari, Sarawak is fortunate to have an ecosystem that enables bamboo to thrive.
“The state would need a proper masterplan to identify areas to plant the bamboo.”