Provide more assistance to paddy farmers, draw more youths into agribusiness

|     Izah Azahari     |

IN LINE with 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 in conjunction with the opening of the 14th Legislative Council (LegCo) session, LegCo members YB Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong, Penghulu of Mukim Tanjong Maya and YB Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin, Penghulu of Mukim Gadong ‘A’, both made special mention of the country’s agriculture industry during the session’s first meeting yesterday.

YB Haji Abdul Wahab stated that people from all walks of life in the country must support efforts carried out by the government in facing the current economic challenges, especially through small and medium enterprises (SMEs), where entrepreneurs should welcome the challenges by viewing them as opportunities to expand distribution and production, not only locally but also for the export market.

Adding on to this, he also touched on His Majesty’s titah in which the monarch stressed on the need to become independent through paddy and rice production, and suggested a short-term solution of helping the seasonal paddy farmers that are scattered all over the country, especially in the Tutong, Temburong and Belait districts, by providing them farming advice, fertilisers, and one vast designated area where they all can be allocated to ease the facilitation of assistance such as in pest control.

For the long run, YB Haji Abdul Wahab highlighted that the involvement of youths in agriculture is vitally important, seeing that the majority of current rice cultivators are now already in their 50s and are only farming paddy as a leisurely pastime and not on a professional basis.

“The government and private sector should work together to provide aid to current and would-be agripreneurs, in the form of loan provisions for them to start their businesses and operational guidance so that they can achieve success in the future, as the youths represent the country’s hope of achieving Brunei Vision 2035 aspirations,” said YB Haji Abdul Wahab.

YB Haji Abdul Wahab bin Apong, Legislative Council member and Penghulu of Mukim Tanjong Maya
YB Haji Tahamit bin Haji Nudin, Legislative Council member and Penghulu of Mukim Gadong ‘A’. – PHOTOS: INFOFOTO

YB Haji Tahamit, meanwhile, talked about the SMEs, suggesting to revive pineapple cultivation especially in Kampong Tungku where the farming of pineapples is a tradition passed down from generation to generation, noting that the quality and taste of the pineapples produced in the village are of higher quality than imported versions.

A total of 82 individuals comprising indigenous people from Kampong Tungku have recently registered to farm pineapples. They have, however, yet to obtain a piece of land to carry out farming.

“The old cattle farm in Kampong Tungku which was previously owned by McFarm can be used for this purpose,” YB Haji Tahamit suggested. “With the skill of the people in Kampong Tungku, we can bring back pineapple cultivation to the country.”

YB Haji Tahamit also discussed the production of ‘madu kelulut’ (stingless bee honey) which has been successfully carried out in several villages throughout the country.

“Currently the honey is only sold and marketed locally, but I hope it can eventually penetrate the foreign market in the future with the help of the relevant ministries via negotiations with ministries from other countries,” he said.