Brunei Darussalam’s paddy output grew by 36 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to last year, as more commercial rice farms plant the sultanate’s latest high-yielding hybrid rice variety Sembada188.
According to data from the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA), Brunei produced 1,801.38 metric tonnes of paddy between January and March this year, up from the 1,324.62 metric tonnes in the first quarter of 2019.
This is also in part due to the opening of the country’s largest rice farming site in Kandol, Belait, which began its first commercial planting of Sembada188 last year in October that was officiated by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
During a site visit to the Kandol Agricultural Development Area (KKP) by the Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism on Thursday, it was revealed that PaddyCo harvested 21.7 metric tonnes of paddy across seven hectares during its first season.
These seven hectares were the first usable plots of land for planting, part of the KKP Kandol’s first phase which only included 20 hectares and is managed by the government-owned firm PaddyCo.
Subsequently, for the second planting season, an additional 10 hectares of land will be used, making the currently active plots of land in Kandol stand at 18.2 hectares, exclusively for the Sembada188 variety which is capable of producing up to six metric tonnes per hectare.
“So far the results have been very encouraging, we managed to harvest about three metric tonnes per hectare which is good considering that the soil is still adjusting to this new agricultural ecosystem,” said Fuziah Hj Hamdan, PaddyCo’s Operations Manager.
With the Sembada188, showing promising results, Primary Resources and Tourism Minister, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong assured that the ministry through the DAA will remain steadfast in identifying other potential high yielding hybrid rice varieties.
He noted however that these rice varieties would require an effective and consistent irrigation system to ensure its high yield, therefore planting of varieties such as Sembada188 will be centralised in the rice cultivation areas of Kandol and KKP Wasan in Brunei-Muara.
Based on data provided by the DAA, 260 hectares of land were used to plant Sembada188 during the 2019/2020 growing season, most of which were located at KKP Wasan.
The cultivation of Sembada188 was also continued during the 2020 offseason, which involved the entirety of KKP Wasan’s 280 hectares.
The department is currently encouraging more and more rice farming areas, specifically those equipped with proper irrigation and drainage, to begin planting paddy outside of its growing season in an effort to supplement this year’s supply of rice for the nation.
In regards to the development of Kandol, YB Dato Hj Ali said that tenders have been offered out for the construction of infrastructure for the KKP Kandol’s second phase which will utilise the remaining 480 hectares of the rice farming site.
The minister explained that construction is slated to begin this July and is expected to be completed within a 30 month period, adding that infrastructure works for Phase 2 will be done by January 2023.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN