His Majesty was greeted on arrival by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya, the event's chairman, and by the Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Haji Hamdillah. With His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Abdul Azim and His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Malik.
The Minister of Industry and Primary Resources in his welcoming address said among other things that the cultivation of rice on a large scale represents an initial step in responding to His Majesty's Titah toward planning and implementing a national agriculture strategy and policy to ensure food security for the nation and people. Yang Berhormat said this initial step involves several approaches including upgrading of farm infrastructure especially of drainage and irrigation system, roads and other related infrastructure. These efforts also include the introduction of a high yield Padi variety.
His Majesty then proceeded to launch the project thus marking the commencement of efforts toward Brunei's phased targets of achieving self-sufficiency in the domestic requirement for rice, starting at 20 percent self-sufficiency by next year and declared a new name for the local rice BDR One, which is now known as "Beras Laila."
The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources is striving to increase the country's rice production from 3 point one two percent self-sufficiency, which is equivalent to about nine hundred and eighty three metric tonnes presently to 20 percent self sufficiency or five thousand and eight hundred and eighty metric tonnes by 2010 and to increase production to 60 percent self sufficiency by 2015.
His Majesty then toured the seedlings nursery and to plant a padi variety researched jointly by Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Philippines. His Majesty and the Philippine Secretary of Agriculture, the Honourable Arthur Yap, jointly planted the padi using the drum seeder. The government of His Majesty has provided nearly five hectares of land for this collaboration to cultivate seven varieties of padi. This kind of collaboration also represents Brunei Darussalam's efforts towards further enhancing cooperative relations with other countries.
His Majesty subsequently proceeded to join padi planting activity at a local padi farmers cultivation site using a moden technology in the form of padi transplanter. In implementing this project, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources would constantly monitor these agriculture development areas especially to ensure that farmers practise a sistematic padi cultivation management such as simultaneous planting in all areas as well as practise cultivation disease control. The demand for rice as a staple food in Brunei Darussalam is expected to increase abreast of the growth in population which averages between one point five percent and two percent annually.
This was followed with His Majesty visiting an exhibition on Food Security and farm infrastructure provision for the Wasan and Bebuloh areas as well as on research activities by the Philippines Rice Institute, Philrice. The government of His Majesty is aware that market prices desired by consumers and market prices needed by farmers differ. What needs to be understood by the population is that the government in endeavouring to balance the two needs shoulders a heavy financial burden in the form of subsidies. The subsidies that are provided directly are by setting suitable market prices and indirectly through various assistance in raw materials such as fertilizers, pesticides and machineries as well as other basic assistance the like of basic agriculture infrastructure.
RTB News, Tuesday, 28th April 2009