| James Kon |
AMIDST the present challenging era, the country’s youth need to look at agriculture as a field where there is an opportunity to forge careers as important as those in other sectors.
Doing so can not only benefit the economy but also support His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s aspiration to see more young locals venture into the field and make the country’s economy more dynamic and less dependent on oil and gas.
These points were underscored by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Datin Paduka Dr Hajah Norlila binti Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Jalil while officiating the launch ceremony for the new Agriculture and Farming Exposure Course for Young Farmers at the Youth Development Centre in Tanah Jambu.
“I believe that in order to attract the interest of youth to choose agriculture as one of the main careers is not easy,” she said. “This needs a paradigm shift among the youth, so that they can see the true potential of the industry in [boosting] not only the country’s economy but also the youth economy.”
The permanent secretary advised local youth to be proactive in increasing their knowledge and entrepreneurial skills, in terms of identifying business opportunities that have the potential to be developed.
“The youth also need to be brave to act with high competitive spirit to venture into agriculture and agrifood as well as the Halal industry, which possess huge potential,” she said. “We always want to see and hope that various careers [can be ventured into] by locals. Numerous initiatives have been and will continue to be carried out by the government to achieve this objective, including the creation of a conducive ecosystem to develop well-established businesses and companies.
Commenting on the Agriculture and Farming Exposure Course for Young Farmers, she said, “This programme will be reviewed and updated from time to time to ensure its smooth implementation and success in producing young farmers who are innovative, progressive and successful and able to create employment opportunities and add value to the industry.”
The new course for is one of the initiatives undertaken to heed His Majesty’s titah during the National Youth Day 2018 celebration, in which the monarch called for the young farmer programme to be reviewed in line with prevailing technological advancements and to attract more youth to forge careers in the sector.
At present, there are 31 youth who have been selected to join the programme. Thirty of the participants have opted to venture into vegetable and fruit farming, with one choosing paddy cultivation.
The participants will undergo a skills training programme from February 18-27, where they will attend talks on the vegetable, fruit, poultry and paddy sectors, high technology in agriculture, pest and disease control, and financial management arranged by the Youth Development Centre and Department of Agriculture and Agrifood.
The participants will also visit selected farms and supermarkets selling produce from the local agriculture industry, and hear the success stories of farmers.
Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Haji Abdul Halidi bin Haji Mohd Salleh in his speech elaborated on the three-month farmer attachment training for the course participants.
“Farmer attachment training is an activity aimed at nurturing the knowledge and skills of youth, with the guidance and teaching from selected companies,” he said. “This exposure is needed as physical and mental preparation for challenges the youths will face when they become farmers. This is specially designed for the programme to produce a dynamic generation of farmers who can produce enough food resources for the needs of the population.
“The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism will always provide assistance to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports [in the form of technical expertise] and help their officers monitor the development of the course participants so that [whatever area of agriculture they venture into] can be developed further [in terms of increasing yield] and even [become their means of livelihood permanently].”