The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT), through the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood has taken steps to strengthen and enhance the profile of the agricultural industry and agrifood within five years with the preparation of the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood’s Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020.
The plan will guide the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood to ensure that the new vision – increasing the output of agriculture and agrifood-based industries through improved productivity and exports – is met through means of technology which in turn will contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The agricultural and agrifood industry has seen significant progress since the conclusion of the 2008 – 2015 strategic plan, where agricultural GDP increased by 62 per cent, that is from BND225.44 million in 2008 to BND366.15 million in 2015.
The Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020 is designed to drive the industry in a more drastic direction, with a targeted production amount of BND1.08 billion in 2020. Emphasis will be placed on specific products, namely, broiler chicken, vegetables, flower cuttings, agrifoods, as well as fruits, rice, livestock and other crops.
It is hoped that the strategies and initiatives highlighted in the Department’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020 will be able to uphold Brunei Vision 2035, which is focused on the nation’s spirations to diversify the economy by 2035.
The 2017 Agriculture and Agrifood Mini-Expo, with the theme ‘Stimulating Productivity Through Technology’, looked to raise awareness on modern farming technology and techniques to help local farmers and businesses boost productivity and reduce unit costs.
Various technologies such as the feedlot system and closed-house system for poultry breeders as well as the fertigation technique, hydroponics and vertical farming for crop farmers were showcased during the expo.
Minister of MPRT, Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong, expressed his wish for local farmers to take advantage of these technologies and practices, and also urged the nation’s youth to consider careers in agriculture. “We are urging more local youths to take up careers in agricultural farming. We also look forward to practising organic farming in the future, which is healthier and safer for consumption among local buyers, as well as for export outside of Brunei,” said the Minister.
The Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, MPRT and Yuan Longping High-Tech Agriculture Co. Ltd., China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of agriculture development and food security. The MoU was signed on November 20, 2017.
The signing of the MoU aims to strengthen and advance cooperation in the field of agricultural development and food security for the mutual benefit of both parties. The MoU covers cooperation in promoting and demonstration of agricultural science and technology in areas such as advanced breeding, seed production and cultivation technologies to increase Brunei’s rice, vegetables and other major crop production.
The two nations will also seek cooperation in the areas of agricultural mechanisation through training in the operation, maintenance and management of agricultural machinery and capacity-building in agricultural areas between Brunei and China through online training courses, on-the-job training, study visits and transfer of technologies.
There will also be collaboration on joint agricultural crop study and research including exchange of scientific and technical information and create and promote an agricultural information service platform.
MPRT is striving to increase rice productivity by introducing hybrid paddy varieties that are adapt- able to the country’s environmental conditions and can produce at least 12 metric tonnes per hectare in irrigated areas.
Brunei’s total rice production in 2016 stood at 1,500 metric tonnes. The Department of Agriculture and Agrifood aims to increase this to 11,500 metric tonnes by 2020 through the implementation of sev- eral initiatives, including increasing the productivity of paddy per hectare in irrigated areas by using high yielding hybrid varieties.
Hybrid paddy technology can have a significant impact on rice production, generate more revenue for farmers and ensure sustainability of the country’s rice industry. Most paddy farming activities in Brunei are done by local farmers on a small-scale basis.
Since 2015, United Agri-Fishery Market Sdn Bhd, a company set up by Taiwanese nationals, has invested about BND1,000,000 at the Tanah Jambu Agricultural Development Area to produce water- melons, sweet melons and cherry tomatoes for the local market.
The farm sits on a 25.3-hectare site leased from the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood and has 20 greenhouses, each 40 metres long. It harvests two varieties of watermelon and sweet melon. Due to limited production, the produce is only available at Warisan Utama Jaya Emporium and Supermarket at Jalan Muara.
United Agri-Fishery also has to import high quality Taiwanese soil to neutralise the acidic soil found at the farm to plant the cherry tomatoes and sweet melons.
With the success of growing Taiwanese watermel- ons, sweet melons and cherry tomatoes, as well as the possibility of growing other varieties of vegeta- bles and fruits, the company is hopeful of increasing its production.
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