The genome way to productivity in oil palm
Mahbob Abdullah | 31 Aug 2018 00:30
One can say that Dr Harikrishna Kulaveerasingam is a true Sime Darby man for he has worked in the company for 18 years and now he has risen to head the Research Department. There he and his team had made their mark in the oil palm industry.

He went to school in St John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur, and after Form Three left to join a boarding school in Sevenoaks in England, and did his degree in Plant Sciences at Wye College, famous as a centre for agricultural studies. He did his PhD in Leicester University, when the subject of DNA and genomes became major studies for use as tools to identify genes with precision.

Already I had heard about the use of DNA which stores genetic information, and not only can it tell people how they are related, but in the case of plants it can lead to a higher level of success in the search for traits that can bring higher productivity.

I had heard Harikrishna give a talk once, and I wanted to follow up on his subject as it was clear to me that this is an innovation that can be of great benefit to the industry by raising the yield of oil palm. We met over lunch at a Japanese restaurant at Oasis Square, Ara Damansara, not far from the office of Sime Darby Plantations. The discussion was going to be about genomes, DNA, and identifying traits that you would want in the palm, a task that scientists do through intensive detective work in the laboratories.

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