Hakim Hayat & Fadley Faisal
Legislative Council members (LegCo) lauded 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 on the focus of developing the agriculture and agrifood sector in the nation’s bid to increase food security, during the second day of the 18th Legislative Council (LegCo) session.
Special Adviser to His Majesty and Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Bakti Diraja Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Isa bin Pehin Datu Perdana Manteri Dato Laila Utama Haji Awang Ibrahim touched on the issue of food security, where he said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the food supply chain all over the world, including Brunei Darussalam.
“The issue of food security must be continuously given attention and prioritised because it is an essential need for survivability,” he said.
He noted that the country has ramped up domestic production of food in the agrifood, fisheries and livestock sectors to achieve self-sufficiency and hopes that it will reach its intended goals.
LegCo members offered their own suggestions on the matter.
LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin said improving the agri-sector will ensure the sustainability of the country’s finances, and that re-skilling and up-skilling of youth in agro-business through innovative technologies could also improve rice production, which would contribute to overall food security.
He added, “The food pricing ecosystem will also see a balance when we go ahead with our efforts towards food security without compromising quality.”
LegCo member Yang Berhormat Awang Naim bin Haji Kamis expressed appreciation towards His Majesty’s titah and suggested for food prices to be monitored constantly instead of seasonally, such as periods nearing Ramadhan, Hari Raya Aidilfitri or other celebrations.
Meanwhile, LegCo member Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad said ensuring food security will open up opportunities in employment and businesses. He said this can be advanced with the agriculture trade education made available in institutions such as Universiti Teknologi Brunei, Institute of Brunei Technical Education and Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali.
“I hope that we will be able to see a stand-alone agro-technology university,” he said.
“With our BND197.8 million gross domestic product, we need to shift our focus to agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors as the main contributors to our economy.
Specialists and academicians nurtured by the university will support this shift,” adding that technologies such as circular food system, regenerative agriculture, agro ecology and efficient storage as well as logistics and the use of drones in agrotechnology can also be researched and developed.