‘Dabai’ or black olives – uniquely found in Sarawak only, is a highly prized fruit today thanks to the research work conducted by the ARC (Agriculture Research Centre) Sarawak, which is also a KFA (Key Focus Activity) project. After much research a major breakthrough found that freezing the fruit and keeping them in cold storage enable the shelf life of the fruit to be extended. This highly appreciated fruit could now be served in far away places and also open to more possibilities and add value to its applications.
“Currently, it is used as one of the ingredients for Sarawak fried rice, unique and tempting for visitors as one of the state’s tourism draw. It has also found applications in pizza toppings, fruit cakes, crackers while mayonnaise and sauce too can be made from it. Additionally, the nut too can be a food source while dabai soap is one of the non-food applications. ‘Dabai’ (Canarium odontopphyllum) is actually rich in anti oxidant and minerals, has a creamy textured yellowish pulp under the outer black skin layer,” said Lau Cheng Yuon, ARC (Agriculture Research Centre) Assistant Director Research for Technology and Commercialization. According to him, the research work was conducted jointly with UPM (Malaysia) and University Nottingham (UK) while GI was registered 9th March 2010 – 9 March 2020 for the fruit. Grown mainly in the central region of Sarawak especially in Kapit, Sibu and Sarikei, the fruit had long been a favourite of connoisseurs but unable to penetrate further into the wider market due to the perishable nature of the fruit after harvesting.
Through the positive research work on ‘dabai’ this fruit is now potentially one of the future stars for export for the state. There is still very little in terms of pests and diseases associated with the plant/tree, which reduces need for pesticides and other chemicals (hence ‘green’) in the production process. All these favourable conditions make it a good choice for small farmers to supplement incomes as well as provide nutritional food for them and their families.