| Rokiah Mahmud |
THE Farmers and Fishermen’s Day celebration this year saw awards handed out to five individuals in acknowledgement of their vast involvement, commitment and contribution towards the national economy.
Organised annually by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) through the Department of Agrifood and Agriculture, the event this year carries the theme ‘Generate Food, Safe Country.’
At the official opening of the 5th Farmers and Fishermen’s Day celebration yesterday, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar presented the awards to five recipients.
Successful Rice Farmer Award recipient Haji Mohd Sofian bin Mohd Yassin, 67, who has been involved in the agricultural sector since the ‘80s, told the Bulletin that the lack of infrastructure and facilities in his early days did little to hinder his will to succeed.
Haji Mohd Sofian heads the Sengkuang Padi Farm in Kampong Rampayoh in Mukim Labi and boasts over 30 years of experience. The veteran farmer readily volunteers to mentor newcomers as they strive towards success.
He explained that he is committed to developing his paddy field, and welcomes cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood to use his land as experimental grounds for a new variety of rice.
Between 2009 and 2013, Haji Mohd Sofian was able to produce 50.54 metric tonnes of paddy on his 6.32-hectare land.
Meanwhile, the Viable Farmer Award was presented to Chin Set Mee, the owner and manager of Syarikat SM Chin Farm located in Kampong Sungai Liang.
Equally committed, Mr Chin has faced his fair share of obstacles but remains undeterred.
While he has the option of sitting back to enjoy the fruits of his labour after being in this line for over 30 years, he opts instead to be involved in every process – from preparing the farm to marketing.
From 2009 to 2013, he produced nearly 149.143 metric tonnes of vegetables on his 1.4 hectare land, generating a good income to support the family and send one of his children off for overseas studies.
Mr Chin is keen to learn about the current technologies available to the agricultural industry. His company was also the first to be given accreditation for Brunei Good Agriculture Practices (GAP).
In the Fisheries category, the Successful Livestock Breeder and Fisherman Award was presented to Haji Zaini bin Haji Mohd Zaini, the owner and manager of Syarikat HZ Azam Enterprise.
After 14 years of being in the business, his operational abilities have become apparent, based on the increase in production with every passing year.
Haji Zaini invested in the trawling-method of deep-sea fishing in Zone Three (Brunei waters), with the assistance of 47 skilled workers and four fishing vessels. Such operation yields about 200 metric tonnes of fish annually, valued between $200,000 to $1.2 million a year. The catch is sold not only to the local market, but exported to the neighbouring states of Miri and Kota Kinabalu.
Meanwhile, Pengiran Haji Ibrahim bin Pengiran Muda Haji Hashim was the recipient of the Viable Fish Farmer and Fisherman Award.
He is the owner and manager of Syarikat Biomarine Sdn Bhd, having ventured into marine fish aquaculture ever since 2009. With $1.3 million in investment, the company is able to make use of the latest modern technology.
The High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) technology enables him to operate a three-hectare fish cage at the Tanjong Pelumpong Fish Farm Industrial Site, and to produce nearly 50 metric tonnes of deep-sea fish worth $900,000 a year. Some 80 per cent of the catch is exported to countries like Indonesia, Hong Kong and China.
The Innovative Fish Farmer and Fisherman Award was presented to Wong Chin Fook, owner and manager of Syarikat Sea Neptune Aquarius Enterprise. Three years of being in the fisheries industry, the passion, determination and hard work have all paid off as the success of the business is visible.
At his fish farm at the Tanjong Pelumpong Fish Farm Industrial Site, he now has 260 fish cages spread out over an hectare. And while he may be considered “young” in terms of experience, his farm is able to produce 33 metric tonnes of fish valued between $600,000 and $1.3 million a year.
Aside from supplying to the local market and his own restaurant, Mr Wong also exports to Hong Kong, China and other countries.