ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Malaysia to help Brunei boost rice output
MALAYSIA will help Brunei boost the productivity level of its rice fields in a US$6 million (approximately $7.5 million) project expected to start soon, a senior Islamic Development Bank (IDB) official said the day before yesterday.
According to Kunrat Wirasubrata, acting director of the IDB Group Regional Office in Kuala Lumpur, the project, an initiative facilitated by the Jeddah-based development bank with the collaboration of Brunei’s Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, was approved last week.
The project is expected to take off “as soon as possible,” Kunrat said, adding “the Malaysians are ready and IBD is ready.”
“Brunei has the ambition to become self sufficient in rice production and Malaysia has the technology, the expertise and the willingness to share,” Kunrat said in a briefing held at the sidelines of the IDB Group Day held at The Empire Hotel & Country Club in Jerudong.
Kunrat said IBD will finance “a fraction” of the project’s total cost, while Malaysia will provide technical know-how.
“Brunei of course is the biggest stakeholder in that effort, so it will be using most its own resources,” he said.
He also cited another ongoing initiative that are being undertaken by Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.
He said IDB has provided technical assistance to these ASEAN countries to conduct a joint study on the plight of snall-scal fishermen and coastal communities.
The Sultanate is aiming to increase its self-sufficiency in rice production from the current five per cent to 60 per cent.
Brunei initially targeted to achieve 20 per cent in self-sufficiency for rice in 2010 but failed to hit the target after the minister admitted in 2011 during the seventh session of the State Legislative Council (LegCo) that it was a “tall order.”
Brunei’s current rice output only accounts for five per cent of local consumption. The Sultanate imports most of its rice requirements from Thailand and has recently started purchasing from Vietnam and Cambodia. The Brunei Times
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