AgroBiz Padi Agropreneur scheme off to a good start

Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP), through LiveWIRE Brunei, its entrepreneurship arm and Social Investment Flagship programme, allocated funds to support the AgroBiz Padi Agropreneur scheme under the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) to boost the nation’s rice self-sufficiency.

Approximately 10 hectares of paddy fields at the IBTE Agro-Technology Campus in Kampong Wasan have been designated as a training ground for the future “agropreneurs” to acquire the knowledge and practical skills needed to be successful commercial farmers.

The planting of the first paddy cycle commenced on Tuesday and all the lots are scheduled to have paddy planted by the end of November.

The Chairperson of LiveWIRE Brunei and LiveWIRE AgroBiz Padi Agropreneur Project Hajah Rosita binti Haji Hassan said, “LiveWIRE Brunei approached Principal of IBTE Satellite Norjemee bin Jenek and a business model for LiveWIRE AgroBiz started to materialise.

“We presented the proposal to the BSP management and our managing director and sponsorship panel agreed to sponsor this project.”

With the country’s current self-sufficiency in rice production at just about five per cent, Hajah Rosita added that AgroBiz was established in response to 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 titah to increase the country’s self-sufficiency and at the same time develop young farmers.

Paddy planting in progress. PHOTO: BSP

Together with IBTE, LiveWIRE Agrobiz developed the model and programme and revised the training curriculum to use more modern farming methods and technology such as drones and use of machinery.

To further develop the sustainable farming model, rain water from the school compound and roof are harvested and channelled into huge water reservoirs as water source to irrigate the paddy field and for flood mitigation.

Meanwhile, Norjemee said that the programme was introduced to get more students in the field. With the funds provided by LiveWIRE Brunei, IBTE was able to recruit people who are qualified and experienced in terms of paddy production to manage the programme.

“So far the programme is on schedule. Today we are planting the first paddy cycle and harvesting will be in February or early March next year,” he added.

Project Manager for AgroBiz Haji Arine bin Haji Budin added that there are 10 students in the rice industry specialisation area who have been appointed as Project Lot Managers and are being trained to oversee operations.

It is hoped that more students will join the programme for the next cycle, and with the available infrastructure and support, LiveWIRE Brunei and IBTE look forward to partnerships with students and graduates from other institutions for collaborative research work.

It is also hoped that the research will be shared with the public so farmers can utilise good farming practices to boost farm production.