About Us

Semongok Agriculture Research Centre (ARC), the administrative headquarters of the Research Division of Department of Agriculture, Sarawak, was established in 1967 as headquarters for the Research Division. It is located at Semongok, 21 kilometers from Kuching where most of the research work is carried out. In addition, there are also seven experimental/research stations situated in various parts of Sarawak. Each station is used for a specific purpose depending on the soil type.

ARC Semongok has a land area of about 203 hectares About half of the land has been developed for field experimentation while about 60 hectares is currently being used as a Permanent Food Production Zone. The Research Centre is equipped with plant houses and laboratories to support research. It is responsible for carrying out crop research relevant to the farming sector.


Together with other agencies such as Sarawak Branches of MARDI (Malaysian Research and Development Institute), MPOB (Malaysian Palm Oil Board) and other research institutions, it provides the necessary technological support to guide the development of agriculture and food industries in Sarawak.

The Research Division is led by a Senior Assistant Director (Research). She reports directly to the Deputy Director (Modernisation Sector) and to the Director of Agriculture Sarawak.


In order to carry out its functions, the Research Division is organised into four branches namely, (i) Administration and Finance Branch, (ii) Crop Production & Postharvest Technology Branch, (iii) Crop Health and Agro-Biotechnology Branch and (iv) Research Support Services Branch. Within the branches are the various sections such as General Administration, Farm Management, Rice, Fruit, Vegetables and Field Crops, Crop Breeding & Miscellaneous Crops, Postharvest & Market Research, Agrobiotechnology, Plant Pathology, Entomology, Pesticide Residue Research & Services, Analytical Chemistry, and Biometry & IT.


Field Crops Research

The main objective of field crops research is to identify crops which have potential to become viable commercial commodities to be developed into industries for Sarawak. Research therefore focuses on selection for good and high yielding local and imported varieties and development of improved production & product technology packages. In addition, study is also done on growing field crops under organic production system. The main crops currently under investigation are tapioca, sweet potato, taro, yam, grain corn and sweet corn.

Organic Farming Research

Work is being carried out on growing selected vegetables and field crops under an organic farming system.  The objectives are to: (i) develop an organic farming package technologies for selected crops (ii) develop a research farm at ARC for demonstration and technology generation, (iii) provide  a centre for training staff and farmers, and (iv) serve as a resource centre for organic seeds and planting materials.

Crop Breeding and Miscellaneous Crops Germplasm

The Crop Breeding & Miscellaneous Crops Germplasm Section was formerly the Pepper, Other Spices & Herbs Section. The Section maintains germplasm collection of various tree crops (coconut, coffee, tea, cocoa, bamboo), spices including pepper and herbs and medicinal plants. A herbs garden had been established at Semongok and Rampangi Station.
The Section has initiated work on varietal selection and new planting methods for terung asam (Solanum lasiocarpum). It has also carried out work on purification of selected paddy accessions for breeding work.

Transfer of Technology

The Technology Transfer Section serves to disseminate the technologies generated at ARC Semongok to the target clienteles. Research officers in this Section conduct various training courses, establish and maintain germplasm plots at stations, demonstration plots and on-farm trial plots in three regions, namely Southern Region, Central Region and Northern Region.

Rice Research

The main aim is develop technology packages for smallholders and the commercial sector to improve rice productivity in the State.
Research is carried out on varietal evaluation including evaluation of imported tropical hybrid rice varieties. Work is also carried out on purification of quality rice Bario, Biris, Bajong and Wai, for selection and breeding work as well as on agronomic and cultural practices for selected varieties, including Bario rice.

Vegetable Crops Research

The objective is to develop quality planting materials and generate technologies for sustainable commercial production. The focus is on import substitution vegetables, common vegetables and indigenous vegetables.
A cangkuk manis variety, ‘Wrinkie’, has been produced from the vegetable crop breeding programme. Research work focuses on the development, improvement and promotion of alternative sustainable systems of producing pesticide-safe vegetables by growers in the State.
For indigenous vegetables such as midin and terung asam, work is  carried out on development of cultural practices for commercial cultivation.

Analytical Services & Research Laboratories

The Chemistry Section comprises the Soil Unit, Food & Plants Unit, Fertiliser Unit, Water & Effluent Unit and Pesticide Residue Unit. The Analytical Chemistry Lab is accredited under MS ISO/IEC 17025:2005 while the Pesticides Residue Lab is accredited under MS ISO 9001:2008.
Research focuses on (i) development of new or improved analytical methods for nutrients, heavy metals and pesticide residues in soil, plant, fertiliser, water, sediment and food products, (ii) pesticides dissipation in crops and environment, (iii) occurrence of pesticides in soil, water and sediment, and (iv) antioxidants in indigenous vegetables and fruits.

Fruit Crops Research

The  main objective is to develop appropriate production technology packages suitable for adoption by fruit growers and entrepreneurs in Sarawak. It covers both indigenous and commercial fruit crops.  The former focuses on priority fruit such as dabai, durian kuning and nyekak, isau and embawang. The latter emphasises on selected fruit such as honey mandarin, papaya, pomelo, rock melon, nangka, guava and avocado. 

The living fruit germplasm are maintained mostly at Layar Integrated Agricultural Station, Betong with a smaller collection at ARC. The collection has 75 species of indigenous fruit trees representing 18 plant families that produce notable quality fruits. Two superior dabai clones, namely Laja and Lulong, 3 superior clones of durian nyekak (DK5, DK6 and DK8), and four durian kuning clones are being produced for larger scale planting.

Postharvest Research

The main objective of the post-harvest research programme is to improve pre-harvest practices, post-harvest handling, supply chain, cold storage management and quality assurance system of local fresh horticultural produce and products. It mainly focuses on post-harvest biology, product development and processing.

A number of dabai products such as dabai cakes, dabai cookies, pitted dabai, dabai paste and dabai soap, and terung asam products such as dehydrated terung asam, terung asam juice, Tiung Delite, terung asam crackers, terung asam ice cream, cakes and cookies have been developed for commercialisation.

Biometry & Computerisation Services

The Section provides guidance on the use of experimental designs in research and to support statistical analysis needed in experimentation. It is also responsible for the development of ICT facilities for ARC to improve office automation, information access, sharing and transfer through networking.

Agrobiotechnology Research

The three main thrusts of the Agrobiotechnology research programme are genetic resource management, genetic improvement and cell culture, and diagnostic. The objectives are to: (i) develop molecular markers for genetic assessment, authentication and conservation of elite agriculture crops, (ii) develop potential derivatives from selected crops, (iii)  develop crop varieties with desirable traits, (iv)  mass produce selected elite crops, (v) identify and mass produce cell metabolites and beneficial microorganisms through cell culture technology, and (vi) develop diagnostic kits and methods for disease detection and management.

Plant Pathology Section

The main objective of the Plant Pathology Section is to carry out research on disease management of agricultural crops, with the aim to reduce crop losses in Sarawak. Research covers the etiology, epidemiology and management of plant diseases. The Section also provides diagnostic and advisory services to growers, agricultural extension staff and crop research officers.

Entomology Section

The Entomology Section was established when the Centre was established to provide insect pest identification and advisory services to the growers and public. The Section  maintains an Insect Reference Collection of more than 10,000 specimens which consists of 7841 identified specimens belonging to 11 Orders and 199 Families. The Section also maintains a pictorial pest identification database to expedite the identification services.
The research activities focus on management of banana pests, golden apple snail, fruit flies, and on non-chemical control measures for major pests of vegetables.