To increase rice production in Brunei, the Sembada 188 pilot planting project was launched in October 2018, where His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam planted the first seedlings. This project covered 35 hectares of agricultural land and is a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) and PT Biogene Plantation of Indonesia.
Before the official planting, trials were conducted using Sembada B9, Sembada 188, Sembada 626 and Sembada 989 seeds. Sembada 188 was chosen because it can produce twice the yield of other varieties. Studies have shown Sembada 188 has an average yield of five to six tonnes per hectare per season. The seeds are imported from Indonesia. In February 2019, His Majesty harvested the first crop from the Sembada 188 project.
MPRT has been making effort to increase the country’s self-sufficiency in rice production by developing more land for agricultural development. His Majesty consented to the opening of a 500-hectar farm to grow rice in Belait, in the hopes to boost Brunei’s self-sufficiency in rice production, from six to 15 per cent.
Brunei offers many opportunities for youth to explore the agriculture industry. There are two programmes available — Contract Farming and Pilot Project. The government provides farm sites and advisory services. Seeds, fertilisers and pesticides are also provided.
In the Contract Farming programme, 20 hectares of farmland have been allocated for entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the Pilot Project programme is based on trial practice on a small plot of land. To be eligible, participants must come up with a feasible proposal. If successful, participants will be given a farm to be developed over two years. Participants who meet the criteria may continue their two-year lease and expand their farm.
A number of schools in Brunei conduct programmes that explore cost-effective agricultural methods. Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Secondary SchooI is the first school to practise the fertigation system for chili planting in Brunei. Fertigation is a cultivation method where plants are fertilised through an irrigation system. The programme equips pre-vocational graduates with skills in agriculture, financial management and marketing.
MPRT also organises programmes that explore modern farming techniques such as hydroponics and the greenhouse system. These programmes attract young people and graduates to venture into the modern farming business.
In February 2019, MPRT launched a farming course for young local farmers. A total of 31 youth were selected to join the programme. Participants attended talks on agricultural technology, pest and disease control and financial management. Attachments are available at selected companies.
Local farmers are encouraged to obtain the Brunei Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certificate. Brunei GAP is a national standard for vegetable and fruit crops, introduced by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood in 2014 to boost the potential of local farms. The certificate helps Bruneian farmers to compete in regional and international markets.
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