Banking on trailblazing young agropreneurs

THE Borneo Bulletin’s June 25, 2019 edition highlighted on its Front Page ‘Students to develop 10ha of paddy in a new beginning’.

The enrolment of 10 local youth into the AgroBiz project to develop 10 hectares of paddy fields in Kampong Wasan is definitely a right way forward.

They are expected to utilise high-yield rice varieties and modern machineries.

The project is expected to turn the enterprising 10 young men and women into skilled and trained agropreneurs – people with both agricultural and business skills.

It is heartening to know that they will eventually be applying contemporary techniques namely the use of drones for fertiliser spraying, organic and eco-friendly materials such as the cultivation of companion crops (sunflower or saffron) as a natural pesticide, vertical rice dryers, and harvesting rainfall to be channelled into water reservoirs.

They will also be equipped with entrepreneurial skills which include the LiveWIRE Bright Ideas scheme, a leadership camp and involvement in the Business Plan Series.

In addition, these young students will be provided with the best technical and commercial training conducted by local and international experts.

And as if that is not enough, they will also be provided with funds to start their businesses through an interest-free loan scheme.

Indeed, these are an extremely lucky bunch and they have just hit a jackpot! Needless to say, they should make full use of the opportunity that knocked on their doors.

All this is happening even as the Brunei Government moves to develop the agriculture sector and pledges to build climate resilience for food security.

Recently we heard in a neighbouring country how its leader admitted that it would be difficult to change the present farmers’ behaviour as many of them are now senior citizens and are used to doing things the old way.

New ideas were given but they cannot adjust their way of life. For example, at this present era, farming vegetables and fruits give better returns than palm oil or rubber, but the ‘old school’ farmers are still sticking to the old crops.

The leader introduced a programme to help increase the farmers’ income based on smart farming and innovative downstream activities.

Back in Brunei, let’s hope this pioneering group succeed in proving themselves as the new ‘modern farmers of Brunei’. If they do, then they will most likely change the mindset of more youth to venture into farming.

This will not only contribute greatly to the national productivity but also open the floodgates of a new career path for the multitude of fresh Bruneian graduates we see every year.

– Mr Green