His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei taking part in the planting of the new high-yielding padi variety at Wasan yesterday Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam officiated the planting of a new high-yielding padi strain capable of increasing the country’s rice-sufficiency rate to 11 per cent by 2020.

The new padi gene called ‘Sembada188’ which originates from Indonesia is expected to yield six metric tonnes of padi per hectare per season – doubled the amount produced by padi laila.

Primary Resources and Tourism Minister Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong said that the new strain could increase Brunei’s annual padi production volume up to 6,000 metric tonnes by 2020.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam being given a tour during his visit to the Brunei Agriculture Research Centre on 29/10/18. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The minister previously estimated that Brunei’s padi laila production rate to increase to 4,000 metric tonnes annually by 2020.

The figure was based on the pattern of increase from 2,350 metric tonnes of padi in 2017 to 3,000 metric tonnes by 2019.

Plants being grown at the Brunei Agriculture Research Centre on 29/10/18. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

He however noted that Brunei will only be able to reach the estimated 6,000 metric tonnes figure if all farmers shifted to the new strain Sembada and fully utilise their plantation spaces.

If those pre-requisites are met, YB Dato Ali estimated that Brunei will definitely increase its padi self-sufficiency rate to 11 per cent from 5 per cent recorded last year.

“The government however, would not be restricting farmers if they still want to plant padi laila, but naturally, they will have to go for strains that will give them higher production rates and profit,” he said.

“The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) will continue its quest to seek padi strains that could yield higher produce than Sembada. InsyaAllah we will be introducing another variety next season,” he added.

The planting of the new hybrid high-yielding padi strain was just one of the few events slotted along the monarch’s visit to agricultural sites in Brunei-Muara.

Places he visited include farms managed by participants of Asnaf Zakat Empowerment Programme (PROPAZ), RZ Prisma Enterprise, Ameenfarm Agrotech and Trading and Riza Fudhlana Farming and Tunas Harapan Agricultural Farm.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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