Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brunei bats for food self-sufficiency

Meeting in session: Ibrahim Hj Abdul Rahman (L), Assistant Director of Technical Education and board member of the 57th SEARCA Governing Board Meeting at SEAMEO VOCTECH.

SERIOUS attention should be given to Agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors since they contribute one per cent of Brunei's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and determine the country's ability to reach self-sufficiency in foods.This was stated by Hj Suhaila Hj Abdul Karim, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Higher Education) of the Ministry of Education (MoE) in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 57th Governing Board meeting of the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) yesterday.

"Brunei Darussalam has oil and gas-based national income, to the extent it depends on imports to meet the local demand for a variety of agro-based products."

He added that the desire for the country to achieve a significantly higher percentage of self sufficiency in agricultural products, especially staple food, has been harboured for a long time and that the government has relentlessly been making careful plans to fulfill those intentions. "Currently, Brunei is putting in place a long-term plan stipulating various plans to diversify its economy."

The deputy permanent Secretary further said that the recently established exchange programme for technological transfer on rice production with the Philippines, shows an example of a serious and concrete plan which is taken by the government through the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

"Our concern for food security is also very much related and relevant to plans and initiatives in agricultural activities. A need to attract the youth group of our population points to a need for modern farming and technology-based agricultural activities."

At the moment, forestry, fisheries and agriculture sectors only engage around 1,000 workers. "This present an opportunity for Brunei to look at SEARCA assistance in enhancing and addressing related issues pertinent to this sector of our economy."

He shared that his imperative view that that SEARCA has a role to play and should have a deep feeling for concern and should therefore pave the way for strengthening and enhancing collaborative undertakings and cooperation of ASEAN member states through SEARCA.

He spoke of two major initiatives that Brunei has taken the Kuala Belalong Research Field on bio-diversity and the conservation of rainforest, popularly known as Heart of Borneo Project.

"Our efforts to ensure food security through agriculture and our desire to promote conservation of our rainforest will need a wise and carefully worked out steps to be taken to strike a balance between these projects so that truly sustainable development is achievable. "The three-day meeting which began yesterday at the SEAMEO VOCTECH in Gadong, is organised by MoE and is the second tine Brunei is hosting since it joined the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), the mother organisation of SEARCA, in 1984.


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