I was out in Labi yesterday with my colleagues to check out a couple of real estate properties needed for a government project. I thought I will just use this space to highlight an effort which is being carried out at the moment. First is the the photograph above. This is Lot Sengkuang, an area of rice plantation already being used in Labi and will be expanded much further.
This one is a photograph of Lot Mobil, also in Labi. This will be the site of a huge rice plantation in Brunei.
Lot Sengkuang and Lot Mobil are two place names in Brunei which are not yet well known. But a few years down the road, school children would have to memorise these names as our new rice bowls in the Geography lessons.
In 2007, according to Agriculture Department, Bruneians ate 31,242 metric tons of rice. That's equivalent to every single one of us eating 80.1 kilogram each. Did you realise that? That's about 8 bags of the 10 kg sack of rice being sold at supermarkets for each one of us. And out of that 31,242 metric tons of rice, how much of them are Brunei rice, grown and produced in our soil?
Our Brunei farmers produced only 983 metric tons per year which is a far cry from the 31,242 metric tons which we consumed. That means we imported nearly 30,000 metric tons every year from somewhere else. Even to produce that 983 metric tons, the government pays the farmers $1.60 per kilogram and not to mention a host of other subsisdies besides.
The first stage of the plan is to increase our production beyond this 3.15% self sufficiency to something higher. Of course, there are many things that need to be done - irrigation, drainage, water, roads, electricity for the pumps and the millers just to name the infrastructure needed which is part of what my ministry does. The rest will be done by the agriculture people. It is something interesting for us to look forward to.