His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office operating rice planting machines during the Kandol padi launch at Kandol, Belait on 28/10/19. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday planted the first seeding at the country’s newest rice plantation site in Kandol, Belait.

The farm which spanned 500-hectare across Mukim Bukit Sawat is expected to produce between 6,000 to 8,000 tonnes of padi annually once it became fully operable by 2025 – contributing up to 15 percent to Brunei’s rice sufficiency rate.

With 65 percent mill recovery rate, Kandol alone may produce 3,900 to 4,800 tonnes of rice annually by the targeted time.

Farmers operating rice planting machines during the Kandol padi launch at Kandol, Belait on 28/10/19. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Managed by a wholly government owned firm PaddyCo, the firm will first make use of the high-yielding Sembada 188 padi variety which could produce up to six tonnes per hectare per season before considering Titih – a variety capable of producing eight tonnes per hectare per season – once more of its seedlings became widely available.

The first plots of lands now available for rice farming measured to 8.23 hectare; 5.23 hectare is to be managed by PaddyCo and the remaining by Indonesian firm Biogene Plantation, who will also be PaddyCo’s technical partner for three planting seasons.

PaddyCo’s Operations Manager Fuziah Hj Hamdan told the media that only up to 20 hectares of land are usable under the first phase of Kandol Agriculture Development plan by the end of this year, with the remaining 480 to be developed by 2021.

Full productivity however, will only be reached by 2025, Fuziah shared.

A rice planting machine seen during the Kandol padi launch at Kandol, Belait on 28/10/19. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“The reason for this is because the soil needed time to adjust to the new (agricultural) ecosystem. There are also other factors that need to be considered such as the natural predators and the acidity of the soil,” she added.

At the first phase, PaddyCo is expecting the farms to produce only half to one tonne per hectare per season.

“But we are also expecting this to be subsequently increased over each cycle within four years as the social became more adjusted to its new surrounding – that is why we projected full productivity only by 2025,” she said.

“Future plans for Kandol include building a Mill once more than 200-hectare of farm plots became usable,” she added.

Additionally, a 1000-hectare of land in Buau, further into Ulu Belait had also been scouted for future rice plantation development plan, which may follow suit after Kandol is completely developed.

The Bruneian | BELAIT

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