This EPP looks at improving the product quality and marketing efforts of dietary and herbal supplements to tap the global demand for high-value herbal supplements and remedies. This will be achieved by ensuring that there is sufficient supply of raw materials for research and development (R&D) and clinical trials before production takes place. Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has established the Herbal Development Office to map the strategic direction, policies and regulations required to spur this industry’s growth.
The initial phase of this EPP is focused on ensuring the supply of five main herbs - Tongkat Ali, Misai Kucing, Hempedu Bumi, Dukung Anak and Kacip Fatimah.
Investments in this EPP are targeted at both the upstream and downstream segments of the industry, with The East Coast Economic Region Development Council currently managing upstream initiatives ensuring raw material supply. Production of raw materials will however be carried out throughout the country, with Herbal Cultivation Parks to be established in Chegar Perah, Pahang; and Pasir Raja and Durian Mentangau, Terengganu. These parks will supplement ongoing cultivation at 11 herbal clusters set up by the Department of Agriculture located in Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Perak, Johor, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. Activities at these clusters centre on contract farming and the formation of model farms.
To further support this EPP’s upstream efforts, the MoA has overseen the establishment of five R&D clusters, which focus on discovery, crop production and agronomy, standardisation and product development, toxicology/pre-clinical and clinical studies, and processing technology. Among developments that have emerged from this initiative include the expected production of three prototypes from the NKEA Research Grant scheme for commercialisation.
Downstream initiatives for this EPP are currently undertaken by eight anchor companies appointed by the MoA, comprising Aning Resources Sdn Bhd, Biotropics Malaysia Bhd, Bioalpha International Sdn Bhd, Nova Laboratories Sdn Bhd, Natureceuticals Sdn Bhd, Natural Wellness Biotech (M) Sdn Bhd, The Mitomasa Sdn Bhd and Phyto Biznet Sdn Bhd. These companies will spearhead the marketing and branding of nutraceuticals and botanical drugs with scientifically-backed claims, ensuring Malaysian herbal products comply with international health standards.
This EPP has also expanded by incorporating two Business Opportunities from the Agriculture NKEA. These comprise Business Opportunity 1: Nutraceutical Products, to include other targeted herbs on the nutraceuticals list; and Business Opportunity 2: Foreign Distributor, aimed at establishing a nutraceutical distributor abroad.
- The Priority Research Focus Area (PRFA), which aims to fill the gap in R&D of herbs to meet commercialisation requirements and enhance the value of herbal products, was introduced in 2014. The R&D will be carried out by relevant universities and research institutions under the supervision of the Herbal Development Division.
- This EPP has been refined to incorporate R&D partnerships between research universities and private companies to expand the number of herbal products with claims and reduce the time-to-market for the products.
- The Pasir Raja Herbal Cultivation Park in Terengganu commenced operations in June 2014.
- Five new companies, Tenaga Jati Bumi, Platinum Herbs Sdn Bhd, Nutratix Biotech, Proliv Sciences Sdn Bhd and Orchidlife Sdn Bhd were appointed as anchor companies in 2014.
- Eight products underwent pre-clinical trials in 2014, while another six registered their first patients to undergo clinical trials in Egypt, Hungary and the US. To date, 14 products are in pre- or first-stage clinical trials.
- Four Centres of Excellence were appointed to conduct product development research in 2014.
Biotropics Malaysia Berhad
Biotropics will spearhead a project focused on developing high-value local Tongkat Ali extract and its equivalent nutraceutical finished goods.
Natureceuticals Sdn Bhd
After a 7-year span of vigorous research and development, the researchers from the Experimental Medicine & Advanced Natureceuticals Research Laboratory (EMAN), School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, USM have successfully produced a standardised Misai Kucing (Orthosiphon stamineus) herbal extract.
Bioalpha International (BIOA)
Under this EPP, BIOA has successfully passed the stringent evaluation procedures to be selected as anchor companies to spearhead the marketing of the high-value herbal products of ‘Hempedu Bumi’ (Andrographis Paniculata) and ‘Kacip Fatimah’ (Labisia pumila).
Aning Resources Sdn Bhd
Aning Resources is embarking on a project to develop ‘Hempedu Bumi’ and ‘Misai Kucing’ extract as established herbal agents formulated to cure numerous health diseases.
Phyto Biznet Sdn Bhd
Phyto Biznet has developed an anti-aging face serum based on ‘Kacip Fatimah’ (Labisia pumila) and a whitening serum based on ‘Mas Cotek’ (Ficus deltoidea).
The Mitomasa Sdn Bhd
Under this EPP, MitoMasa will spearhead the marketing and branding of nutraceuticals and botanical drugs that come with scientifically backed claims to international markets.