Kg Kapok Village Consultative Council (MPK) is currently seeking financial support from the government and private agencies as it is moving ahead with its plans to build its banana chips factory.
Its Deputy Chairman Pg Hj Ibrahim Pg Hj Timbang said the council will need a budget of around $200,000 to $300,000 to build the factory and acquire the necessary equipment to mass produce the banana chips, Kg Kapok’s official product under the country’s One Village One Product (OVOP) initiative.
The village had planned for the factory’s construction since 2014 after securing a land development grant worth $45,000 during the third National Excellent Village Awards (AKC) that year.
The grant was used to prepare a site at Kg Kapok for the plant’s construction.
Since then, Pg Hj Ibrahim said, the council has been actively seeking financial aid from the government and private agencies but has yet to receive the amount it needed to build the factory despite having obtained government approval three years ago.
“We had plans to self-finance this project, but we weren’t able to raise enough money as sales of our banana chips have declined since 2016,” he added.
The village had previously enjoyed brisk sales from its banana chips since it began selling them in 2012, averaging at around $15,000 annually, but the recent economic downturn and increased competition severely impacted their business.
“Our highest recorded was $20,000 in 2014,” said the council member. In contrast, the village only made $7,000 last year.
At present, the village is only capable of producing 2,000 to 3,000 packets of banana chips in a day. Production is done at the village head’s home.
Pg Hj Ibrahim said having a factory would not only help boost production but also allow the village to obtain Halal certification.
The certification would enable the village to distribute their banana chips to supermarkets as well as overseas.
For now, the banana chips are mainly sold as doorgifts and souvenirs for weddings and corporate events, though they are now marred by stiffer competition.
To compensate for lacklustre sales, the village is currently promoting its other products, particularly the cultural performance services and the Bukit Tempayan Pisang hiking trail.
“We don’t know for sure how long we could last, but we plan to hold on as much as we can,” said Pg Hj Ibrahim, as he hoped for financial aid to arrive soon.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN