Underground water boost for paddy plantation

Daniel Lim

The Underground Water Well Project at Agricultural Development Area (KKP) Lot Sengkuang is an important step in realising 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 vision in ensuring the nation’s food security, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong said.

“Having plenty of water to cultivate paddy is very important and there are challenges in acquiring large and consistent amount of water. Here in Kampong Labi, we are successful in drawing out the water that will be distributed across the paddy plantation to enable them to plant high-yield paddy twice a year, where previously it was only possible once a year,” he said.

The minister made these comments during a visit to the KKP Lot Sengkuang in Belait District to look into paddy harvesting yesterday.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali said the well will ensure that paddy plantation farmers are not just reliant on rainfall to ensure a successful harvest, adding that he also hopes that projects such as these will be conducted at other plantations to ensure an alternative and consistent source of water which can result in an increase in yield during harvest.

The delegation convened at the Bio-Diversity Centre and made their way to the rural area of Belait District with the first stop being a brief visit to the KKP Rampayoh where the Ladang Syarikat Fook Chun Farm had recently started to cultivate limau manis fruit.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong helps harvest the paddy during the visit
Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong officiates the start of the Underground Water Well Project at KKP Lot Sengkuang. PHOTOS: DANIEL LIM
Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali views the paddy harvest being emptied from the combine harvester during the visit

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali and the delegation then made their way to the nearby Underground Water Well Project at the KKP Lot Sengkuang. The site is an initiative by the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) through the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood and Preston Geocem (B) Sdn Bhd where various facilities such as underground pumps and water tanks have been constructed to provide water supply to the nearby paddy plantation. The area was previously an empty field.

The construction and processes that go into the operations of the site were explained in detail to the minister following the recitation of Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat led by Mosque Affairs Officer Haji Md Nazelley bin Noorashid of Kampong Labi Mosque.

The minister was given a detailed overview of the composition that makes up the well. He was also briefed on how the water pump and sediment filtration system aids in irrigation for the nearby paddy plantation. Department of Agriculture and Agrifood Senior Special Duties Officer Saidin bin Namit briefed the minister.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali also toured the facilities in the area which included the solar panels that power the whole system, the electrical panels and water tanks that store water for use during changes in seasons. Preston Geocem (B) Sdn Bhd staff were present.

The whole Underground Water Well Project at KKP Lot Sengkuang is estimated to be capable of drawing 12m3 of water every hour which equates to 12,000 litres.

This provides the nearby paddy plantation with an alternative source of water, as the extracted and filtered ground water can be stored in the water tanks for use during sudden changes in the climate, especially during the dry season.

The minister officiated the drawing of the underground water by opening a valve that draws the groundwater to the surface.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali then toured the 20.7-hectare area designated for paddy plantation led by Pertanian Tropikal Utama (PTU) Managing Director Yong Khian Fook who is leading the paddy plantation as the head.

The minister harvested the paddy that was first planted in July as part of his visit.

As the minister drove the combine harvester around the plantation, the collected paddy was emptied into holding bags. The minister, Yong Khian Fook and members of the contingent examined the harvest.

With just under eight hectares out of the 20.7 hectares of land used for this harvest, Yong Khian Fook said the plantation is slated to continue to develop the area.

He said the next paddy planting season is planned to start around December and with the continued expansion, 12 hectares will be utilised for the next season’s paddy planting.

Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Hanapi bin Mohd Siput, who is also the Chairman of the Mukim Labi Consultative Council and Acting Penghulu of Mukim Labi 1; Belait District Officer Ramlee bin Haji Jamudin; heads of departments and senior officers from various government agencies were also present.