Shell LiveWIRE Brunei’s AgroBIZ Paddy Agropreneur Scheme is looking to establish short courses on paddy cultivation for members of the public by next year, in an effort to further strengthen the sultanate’s rice production industry value chain. 

This was revealed by the LiveWIRE Chairperson and Brunei Shell Petroleum’s In-Country Value Manager, Hjh Rosita Hj Hassan during a graduation ceremony for LiveWIRE’s AgroBIZ Paddy Agropreneur Scheme that was held on Wednesday at the Garden’s Veranda, Rimba Garden Central. 

Speaking to the media, Hjh Rosita explained how the AgroBIZ scheme has garnered significant attention, attracting many visitors to their paddy cultivation site located at the IBTE Agro-Technology Campus in Kampong Wasan. 

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

She added how a number of visitors were individuals generally interested in organic farming and management as well as the production of organic fertilisers and pesticides.

Due to this reception, continued Hjh Rosita, AgroBIZ will be opening short courses next year, with materials already in preparation including organic cultivation and entrepreneurship in the paddy supply chain, among others. 

“These courses will be marketed toward members of the public, however, we will be giving priority to local farmers who wish to truly understand the methods that we are employing throughout our own paddy cultivation process,” she said. 

She added how the short courses, though primarily revolving around paddy cultivation, will also touch on aspects of the local rice production industry value chain, such as seedling production and transplanting services. 

“There is a whole ecosystem when it comes to rice production, we must not forget that (and) there are only a finite number of players within the value chain, which may affect the accessibility of certain services for farmers who lack the financial means,” continued the chairperson. 

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“This is what we aim to do, we want to give individual ideas, we want to encourage them to look into opportunities within the end-to-end value chain of rice production because we are hoping to build a stronger ecosystem, one that can be more competitive,” she added. 

Another vital benefit of having more players within the value chain, according to Hjh Rosita, would be strengthened security of supply which in turn will reduce the nation’s risk of scarcity or shortages. 

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The overarching goal that AgroBIZ intends to achieve however is to raise more awareness on the benefits of sustainable farming with the application of modern technology, she went on to say. 

“We are not sure yet of the effects that chemical pesticides have towards our natural environment, there is always a lingering threat that the chemical runoffs from agriculture could eventually contaminate our natural surroundings,” she said. 

She added that AgroBIZ is committed to achieving its intended impact, hoping for more collaborations with the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism. 

Shell LiveWIRE Brunei is the entrepreneurship arm and is the flagship social investment programme of BSP, which has allocated funds to the AgroBIZ scheme under IBTE to provide young, future agropreneurs with adequate technical knowledge in rice farming and to develop their agropreneurial skill.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

This article was first published on November 14, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 115

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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