What do you know about Rice in Brunei?

The other day, the Head Honcho of Information Technology told me that there is no way Brunei can be self sufficient in rice. Even if we cultivate the entire surface area of Brunei, we still do not have enough land to grow rice sufficient to feed the whole country. This is assuming every single inch of Brunei is cultivatable. If you were to take that there are parts of Brunei which nothing will ever grow such as mountains, bare patches, ungrowable areas (including the small lawn in front of my house), then there is even less space available to grow rice. I am quite comfortable with that assertion when he told me, if I am not, then I have to delve through three volumes of 2 inches thick each to verity it.

There are three 'huhs?' to this piece of information. The first 'huh?' is that it is quite disturbing to realise just how small Brunei is spacewise and the second 'huh?' is to realise just how much rice we Bruneians consumed in an entire year. There is nothing much we can do for the first part (maybe we can grow superfast rice with several productions a year or buy another piece of land outside Brunei like the giant cow ranch we have in Australia and grow rice there) and really there is not much we can do about the second part either (unless of course we can figure out a way of not eating too much rice as our carbohydrates requirement and eat something else as a substitute). Either way, we need to continue importing our rice. Whether we should continue to expand our local rice production or not depends on whether we want to maintain a local agriculture or otherwise. Though I have been told by a an ex-army officer turned rice grower that he can make on average around $2,000 a month growing rice in a 30 acre paddy plantation, but without subsidies, the amount would be around half that.

The third 'huh?' is why is the Head Honcho of Information Technology bothering about rice? Shouldn't he be worrying about computers and other IT related matters? The IT Department is a bit of a strange animal made up of an amalgamation of several different IT units of various departments and the old State Stores Department. State Stores Department were centrally in charge of purchasing, storing and distributing rice and sugar among many other things. Over time, the State Stores department reduced its function to supply rice and sugar only. The newly formed IT and State Stores Department were supposed to be a procurement and supply department when it was formed in the late 1990s. But it became prominent in the wake of the Y2K (the turn of the century) and became a policy department when IT and E-Government became part of the government's policy in enhancing its services to the public. But rice and sugar remained as part of the department's function together with its IT side.

It does not really matter which department is responsible. A better arrangement could be argued for but the most important fact is that the government is continuing its policy to subsidise rice that is being sold in this country and to ensure the supply of rice is sufficent for the entire country. The price that Bruneians pay is not the higher price that the government pays to our supplier overseas. Neither does the government charge for the full expenses of shipping, storing and selling the rice. At the same time, the government maintains a few months supply of the rice in its effort to ensure that there is food security to us Bruneians. The next time you eat rice, think of the government's efforts to ensure that it is there available for you and me.

Comments

Anonymous said…
As a Bruneian, I'm really grateful to the Govt of His Majesty the Sultan for the subsidy of rice, petrol n many others. We are really lucky to be a Bruneian.
FlyBoy said…
I wonder if Thailand is the only country we import rice from. If that is so, wouldn't it be wise to think of other alternative countries to import from if say one day Thailand has a short supply of rice.Just a thought.
I think the Head of IT should stick to what he knows best and let the Dept of Agriculture and Ministry of Development find measures to sustain and grow the rice production in our country.
Ness said…
In my first year studying overseas, I thought, right, will try not to consume much carbs in terms of rice.

I end up binging on chips and that made me sick (a few kgs heavier). So from then on I say no to chips and now have an invaluable relationship with my rice cooker. I admit, im a true bruneian who loves her rice.
Anonymous said…
heard vietnam rice is nice... so why not import some from there...

didnt the local growners recently complained that the govt, i.e. agriculture dept didnt pay them for their locally grown rice (Temburong).
Obi-chan said…
I've tried the locally-cultivated rice - even the purple variety, for which Marudi is famous for - and I admit I've been spoiled silly with imported rice; Bruneian rice just doesn't have that zing. And I think people here need to be reminded of the subsidy on rice and sugar - IMHO I have seen too many people throw leftover rice away 'because it's cheap'.

At least our decorative plants down at the Horticulture Centre look fantastic...
Herman said…
Herman...

I can supply thai rice if there is a real order..email me at energyempire@hotmail.com
mohamed said…
if u r reday to buy rice from india just contact me 00919952976240 (or) email amulsha2002@yahoo.co.in
Saiful said…
We can arrange shipment of various types of rice from Bangladesh if you are interested.

Feel free to contact me at saiful_huda@hotmail.com
Anonymous said…
May I know, how much the price of rice in Brunei on average ?
ali ricemills said…
i am from Pakistan and have a vast experience in rice growing and rice milling due to Pakistan,s power problem i want to move from there i want to serve in rice field of Brunei.if govt of Brunei sport me i will prove my abilities to achieve the targets of self-sufficiency policy. thanks my e.mail aliricemills008@gmail.com
Drul Hamid Abd said…
Miracle can happen in case of boosting rice production in Brunei also. currently rice yield in Brunei is about 1. 5 t per ha which is much lower than global rice yield. This can be raised to 4 t per ha without much efforts. Brunei requires nearly 35,000 tons of milled rice annually the demand you can meet planting rice to 7000 -8000 ha land twice a year. Soil acidity and acid sulphate soil might be a problem, but you can have a massive plan for managing acid sulphate soils. Dr Abdul Hamid, Bangladesh

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