| Hakim Hayat |
BRUNEI Darussalam is on track to achieve its national rice self-sufficiency target of 11 per cent by 2020 as it moves to double the number of sites for commercial rice cultivation and make use of high-yield paddy seed varieties that would double national rice output, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong said in Parliament yesterday.
The minister was responding to Legislative Council (LegCo) Member and Penghulu of Mukim Kota Batu Yang Berhormat Naim bin Haji Kamis’ query on the national rice self-sufficiency target’s progress which stood at 4.74 per cent in 2017 and further asked if the target for 2020 is realistic. The minister disclosed that currently, 500 hectares of paddy cultivation sites are using complete water irrigation systems, but by doubling the number of sites, they will be able to double the yield with the high-yield varieties Sembada 188 that can produce an estimated six metric tonnes of paddy per hectare and also Titih that can produce 8.5 metric tonnes per hectare.
“These are only estimates for now and is also subject to the availability of the paddy seeds. We already have the Sembada 188 but the Titih variety is currently in trial phase and we expect it to harvest by next year,” he added.
Although the target looks achievable, the minister said they are not being complacent as further research is being carried out with countries such as China and the Philippines to obtain a higher yield paddy seed. “We are getting expert help from breeders to triple the yield that can be offered to the public and hence profit our farmers.”
The end of last year saw the announcement for a new 500-hectares commercial rice cultivation site in Kandol, Belait District which is expected to help boost Brunei’s rice production and national rice self-sufficiency. The new site will be equipped with the appropriate infrastructure for agriculture and will be offered for development to the private sector and government-linked companies (GLCs) and will complement the country’s continuous drive to boost national rice output to achieve self-sufficiency.