Call for local restaurants, wholesalers to buy locally-produced vegetables

|     Azlan Othman     |

MINISTER of Primary Resources and Tourism Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong highlighted a new initiative for the extension of contract for farms. The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) is in discussion with local import agencies, restaurants and wholesalers for them to reduce importation of vegetables from neighbouring states.

He said this in response to a query by member of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad who asked about efforts by the MPRT to control the importation of vegetables when local produce is already adequate to cater for local consumption.

“The MPRT will consult with import agencies, restaurants and wholesalers and ask them to buy local vegetables on a long-term contract basis,” the minister said on the fifth day of the 15th LegCo session yesterday.

On the increase in the tourism budget for Financial Year 2019-2020, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali said his ministry is given an additional budget to enhance tourism products in terms of quality, accessibility, promotion and marketing.

Meanwhile, on member of the LegCo and Penghulu of Mukim Gadong ‘A’ Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin’s call to revive annual ‘Farmers Day’, the minister said Brunei needs to have more farmers first to showcase their products.

Member of the Legislative Council and Penghulu of Mukim Gadong ‘A’ Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

“We want agricultural contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) to increase to two per cent compared to half a per cent at the present before we can revive Farmers Day and showcase our produce. Farmers are also not ready to pay for booth charges during the showcase. We must enrich our farmers for both the local and foreign market,” the minister said.

Asked on ways to enhance fisheries as raised by Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit, the minister said modern technologies are used, such as aquaculture industry technique – cages, ponds and vertical tanks. Although it incurs high cost, the outcome is guaranteed as safe especially during the monsoon season where their activities are not affected by big waves and so on.

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali also said deep water fish activities are rapidly expanding as seen by members of LegCo during their site visit to the Serasa Fish Landing Complex site recently. Big vessels docked in Serasa are able to operate at deep water for weeks and also process the fish.

On fishing equipment used, the minister said it should be appropriate and not disruptive and affect fish stocks. Guidelines have been provided.

On inadequate jungle trekking tracks that lacks facilities raised by Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit, the MPRT has a strategy in that there should not be as many trekking tracks as maintenance is an issue. The ministry is focussing on several trekking routes that are easy to maintain, safe to use and accessible.

On cattle and goat breeding, the minister said the MPRT is in discussion with a government-linked company (GLC) investor for a site in Batang Mitus in Tutong to increase cattle production to enable 100 per cent self-sufficiency in fresh meat.