Seaweed farmer at Geger beach, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo: Flickr/Adlaw)

The Mataram State University (Unram) and University of Malaya (UM) have agreed to conduct joint studies on seaweed in West Nusa Tenggara waters.

The bilateral cooperation was marked by the signing of a memorandum of understanding by Unram Rector Prof.H.Sunarpi and Dean of UM`s Faculty of Sciences Prof. Mohd Sofian Azirun here Tuesday.

Prof.Sunarpi said the two universities` joint research activities were not only necessary for scientific development but also for the West Nusa Tenggarans` economic benefits.

He said his people had recently identified 69 macro algae species in West Nusa Tenggara province`s waters. However, the functions and necessities of each algae species were not yet known.

Therefore, along with their Malaysian counterparts, Unram`s researchers would reveal those algae species, and, if possible, to develop them into such commercial products as pulp and paper, he said.

“We have recently worked with a South Korean company to conduct a research on how to process red algae to be pulp and paper materials,” he said.

Previous researches resulted in the discovery of some algae species which were able to absorb ultraviolet rays.

“We have conducted research at molecular level. This will be part of our focus under the memorandum of understanding,” he said.

In his address, Dean of UM`s Faculty of Sciences Prof.Mohd Sofian Azirun said he greatly valued the MoU with Unram.

As the world`s largest archipelagic country, Indonesia was also one of the main seaweed producers on earth, he said.

“In the past, the Philippines was known as the biggest seaweed producer in Asia but Indonesia can now compete with the Philippines,” he said. — ANTARA