Brunei’s rice-sufficiency rate can be doubled to 10 percent once its largest rice cultivation site in Kandol, Belait becomes fully operable within two to three years, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism said.
The sultanate is currently at only 5 percent self-sufficient, producing only 1,500 tonnes of rice each year while Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong is optimistic that the numbers can be improved with the introduction of Kandol.
Speaking on the sidelines of his site visit to Kandol, the minister plans on utilising titih, a hybrid variety that yields 8 tonnes per hectare per year.
“Kandol is 500 hectares… so if you do a rough calculation, you may get around 4,000 tonnes of padi produced each year but you also have to factor in determinants including water and treatment of crops. So in the end, only half of them may actually be turned into real outputs,” he said.
“Of course we want to become self-sufficient the soonest we can, but we should also understand our limitations and work around with it,” he added.
Kandol is currently undergoing the first phase of its development. The first 20 hectares out of 500 are expected to be usable by October this year while the rest may follow suit within two to three years, the minister said.
Darussalam Assets has also been appointed to find partners or technical consultants to run the farm.
At the interim, the agency is evaluating proposals and will only confirm their selection by the third quarter of this year.
“As for us, MPRT will continue to look for padi strains that could give higher yields; and currently, we are cooperating with various agencies and companies from China, Thailand, Australia and other neighbouring countries,” he said.
The construction and infrastructural concerns are also being handled smoothly by the Ministry of Development (MoD) and its appointed contractors.
Currently, MPRT is already working with Indonesia for its Sembada, a padi variety that could yield 6 tonnes per hectare; and with Myanmar and Singapore for titih.
The ministry is also in talks to acquire agricultural technology from Chinese Yuan Longping Hi-Tech Agriculture Co who has the means to produce a variety that yields about 9 to 10 tonnes per hectare.
Waqiuddin Rajak | BELAIT