Agriculture Technology Seminar Series XIII

Speakers, organisers and participants posing at the end of the seminar

Following the past 12 successful seminars that highlighted the advances of agriculture and food science, this year’s Agriculture Technology Seminar Series XIII recommenced with the aquaculture industry being the cynosure of the seminar. Themed ‘Towards Environmentally Sustainable Aquaculture’, the seminar was co-organised by UTAR’s Centre for Biodiversity Research (CBR), Faculty of Science (FSc) and Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research (IPSR) on 16 July 2016 at the Kampar Campus. 

Attracting the largest crowd among the previous seminars, UTAR Vice President for R&D and Commercialisation Prof Ir Dr Lee Sze Wei thanked the 160 participants for their support and participation that has enabled the seminar to grow from strength to strength over the years.

“As the seminar is the university’s responsibility and initiative in agricultural science, I believe the seminar has received a good reputation and following from the general public and industrial experts. I hope you participants will benefit from the information shared by the speakers and I look forward to seeing fruitful discussion among yourselves,” said Prof Lee during his welcome speech.

Prof Lee delivering his welcome speech

Organising Chairman Prof Dr Ooi Aun Chuan also expressed his gratitude to everyone present for making the event a success and concisely introduced the speakers, namely Professor for Faculty of Veterinary Medicine from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) Prof Dato’ Dr Mohamed Shariff bin Mohamed Din, Fish Health Management and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Consultant of LTS Consultancy Malaysia Dr Leong Tak Seng, Professor in Fish Nutrition Laboratory of the School of Biological Sciences from Universiti Sains Malaysia Prof Dr Ng Wing Keong,  Deputy Director for the Institute of Tropical Aquaculture from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) Dr Shahreza Md Sheriff, Biovalence Sdn Bhd Chief Technology Officer Ung Eng Huan, and Assistant Professor of Mechatronics and Biomedical Department from UTAR Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science Dr Loo Joo Ling.

“I am very grateful for the support of our distinguished speakers for sharing their experiences in the emerging aquaculture industry. The seminar was organised to meet the needs of UTAR students and the public interested in aquaculture, with hopes to enhance our understanding of the current issues facing the industry,” said Prof Ooi.

Prof Ooi introducing the speakers during his speech

Looking at the aquaculture industry as an important protein source for people, the seminar placed emphasis on sharing solutions to advance its sustainable production, to address the limiting factors for growth of the aquaculture industry, and to identity the research activities that will help the aquaculture industry.

The first speaker Prof Mohamed spoke on “What Triggers the Outbreak of Fish Diseases in Aquaculture Systems?”. His message highlighted stress as the primary cause of disease outbreaks in fish. He associated changes in temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen levels, as well as sublethal levels of chemicals as factors contributing to the changes in fishes’ bodies that eventually cause fish to succumb to infectious agents. Therefore, Prof Mohamed spoke that understanding the topic was crucial to devising solutions to control and prevent disease outbreaks in aquaculture systems.

Apart from stress, Dr Leong spoke of the improper quarantine procedure used on imported fish upon arrival as also the cause of disease outbreaks that have diminished economic gains. With his topic “Managing Parasite and Diseases in Marine Fish Cultured in Floating Cages”, he shared findings from his study of freshwater treatment on farmed fish to determine the effect of the treatment on monogenean ectoparasites and their rapidness in re-infecting the treated fish.

Prof Ng, with his topic on “Sustainable Shrimp Aquaculture through the Utilisation of Functional Additives in Aquafeeds”, too acknowledged that diseases have been one of the most limiting problems in the aquaculture industry today and highlighted the current status of global shrimp production with its accompanying challenges. Through his presentation, participants were enlightened with the use of various functional feed additives as alternatives to antibiotics and their modes in enhancing the disease resistance of farmed shrimp. He hoped that participants would be able to derive a better understanding of the potential contribution of functional feed additives to the sustainability of the global shrimp farming industry.

Further expatiating on aquaculture, Dr Shahreza, with his topic “Genetic Improvement in Aquaculture: Issues and Potentials in the Malaysian Aquaculture Scenario”, shared the importance of producing good quality seed that is disease tolerant, hardy and with good appearance through the Genetic Improvement approach. He believed the approach will further improve current aquaculture species; and thus his study discussed on the issues and potentials of the Genetic Improvement approach on the aquaculture industry.

Participants also learnt of the aquaculture industry benefitting from technological advances as Ung presented on “Designing the Next Generation Shrimp Farm”, by introducing the Rosette Model, along with the hardware and software involved in the concept. He mentioned that the model will combine the latest aquaculture engineering, Cloud-based Information Technology, biotechnology and water reuse technology to help design innovative shrimp farms with reduced human error.

The final speaker Dr Loo spoke on her study titled “Investigation of Alternative Ingredients as Partial Fishmeal Replacement in Aquaculture Feed” that addressed the need for good and cost-effective protein sources. With importance placed on determining the effect of protein substitutes on the biochemical and physiological changes in fish, her research aimed to develop suitable substitutes for Fish Meal (FM) to maintain the sustainability and improve the cost efficiency of by-products and plant feedstuffs. Through her research, the optimum protein substitute that will support the maximum growth and survival of fish can be determined.

Clockwise from top left: Prof Mohamed, Dr Leong, Prof Ng, Dr Loo, Ung and Dr Shahreza sharing valuable information on the aquaculture industry

Towards the end of the seminar, Prof Ooi recapitulated the lucid information presented by the speakers and Faculty of Science Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng was invited to deliver his closing remarks.

“This seminar reminds us once again that agriculture is related to food production and food security which we all need. Therefore, with this seminar, I hope Bachelor of Science (Hons) Agricultural Science students will be exposed to the current state of the industry and the problems facing the industry. This is to prepare the students so that they will be able to contribute and to work with others in the agriculture field. Indeed we have learnt a lot today and the questions asked have probed deeper into the issues faced,” said Dr Lim.

Dr Lim delivering his closing remarks

Chee Wei Ling, a formulator from Dindings Soya & Multifeeds Sdn Bhd enthused on her enjoyable time at the seminar that enabled her to obtain the latest information regarding the industry. She mentioned that the information was eye-opening and looked forward to applying the information in her job and research.

Dr Lim also delightedly informed every one of the upcoming 14th seminar that will be held in November this year and thanked the sponsor, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK), for their support in making the seminar possible. The seminar ended with souvenir presentations to the speakers, and a group photograph of all speakers, participants and organisers.

Top, from left: Dr Lim presenting souvenirs to Prof Mohamed, Dr Leong and Prof Ng
Bottom, from left: Seminar Moderator and Committee Adviser Dr Wong Wey Lim presenting souvenirs to Dr Shahreza, Ung and Dr Loo

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