Brunei is targeting a 20 per cent, equivalent to a 6000 metric ton increase of local rice production by 2010 for its short-term plan and a 60 per cent (equivalent to 18,000 metric tonnes) increase by 2015 for its medium-term plan towards self-sufficiency in the rice production.

The plans were unveiled during a presentation on rice production projects for His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, during his working visit to the Agriculture Department yesterday.

Among the areas of improvement which were highlighted during the presentation for the Brunei-Muara, Belait and Temburong rice field include new rice fields, enhancing the rice field infrastructure and introducing high yielding variety (HYV) while not relying on photo period-sensitive rice-type.

The costs of implementing the improvements and introducing the high yielding variety are expected to be $50 million.

In Tutong, local rice — pusu, bario and adan — will continue to be the main production due to the small size of the field, lack of adequate water supply and to avoid contamination of drinking water by chemicals used in farming.

To achieve the output in Brunei, more land will come under rice cultivation.

The target to achieve 20 per cent increase by 2010 will see 2,783 hectare allotted for rice production while 5,380 hectare to achieve the 60 per cent target by 2015.

The Agriculture Department has identified three low land areas which have the potential to be developed widely, among them were 1,000 hectare of Piasau-Piasau, Limau Manis and Labi Baru. Currently, the department is conducting research on each of the new areas.

Other factors which are being looked into include enhancing the agronomy field management, skills of the workforce and staff at agriculture, the establishment of the Rice Research Centre as well as improvement of the post-farming and farming technology.

The short-term plan is scheduled to commence in 2009 and is estimated to completed in 2010 while the change of variety will begin after the 2008/2009 sowing season, during the fall of 2009 until mid-2010.

Meanwhile, the medium-term plan on improving the infrastructure of the new areas will commence as early as 2009 and is expected to be completed by 2010.

With adequate irrigation and drainage system, the plans for planting the HYV twice a year will commence as early 2011.

A majority of Brunei’s rice is imported, about 29,252 metric tonne (96.7 per cent) of the personal use costing at about $34.19 million.

According to the 2007 statistics, the total of the rice needed for the population of Brunei is 31,242 metric tonnes, costing an estimated $37.05 million.

The total usage per capita is estimated at 80.1kg each person per year.

The Brunei Times