BRUNEI-MUARA – A South Korean-Brunei joint venture wants to introduce and export locally grown Seolhyang strawberries, promising to yield a projected three tonnes annually.
Located at the Agricultural Development Area (KKP) in Lumapas, the Berry Good Sdn Bhd farm has about 2,000 strawberry plants growing in a greenhouse which utilises agrotechnology from South Korea to help regulate temperature.
The farm — still in its research and development phase — grows the Seolhyang strawberry variety developed in South Korea. The Seolhyang is twice the size of a regular strawberry and also known to be twice as sweet.
Berry Good aims to introduce to the locally grown Seolhyang to the export market in a bid to showcase Brunei’s agricultural capabilities.
In an interview with The Scoop, Berry Good’s executive director, Hjh Tahniah Hj Mohd Taha, said that the company has been in operation for two years, conducting trials for each harvest to ensure that the fruit fulfill the standard size and sweetness.
“Based on our trial, we [were able] to produce one tonne of strawberries per cycle [and] in a year, we can have three or four cycles, so the strawberries can be grown and harvested all year round,” she said.
She shared that growing strawberries in Brunei’s tropical climate has a few challenges, temperature regulation being the main factor.
“Although our first harvest yielded a lot, the fruits were only the size of regular strawberries [but] after some tweaking and upgrades [of our technology], our last harvest of strawberries reached the perfect size, however, it did not achieve the level of sweetness that we were looking for.
“[Down the line] we want to create other strawberry based products, like strawberry juice.”
Eddy Choi, Berry Good’s general director, said that the strawberries need to be grown in a temperature of fifteen to twenty degrees celsius which is significantly lower than Brunei’s average daily temperature .
Though no timeline has been set on when the Seolhyang strawberries will enter the market, Eddy is hoping its upcoming harvest in March of next year will yield good enough results for them to start commercialisation.
He said that the company is always striving to ensure that its strawberries are of premium quality, adding that every cycle uses Seolhyang seedlings propagated by farmers South Korea.
Even though the strawberries are meant for the export market, the general director said that they will only be able to ship the strawberries to our neighboring countries.
This is due to the Seolhyang strawberries’ “soft and sensitive” skin which would not be able to withstand long haul exports.
“Hopefully, once we start commercialising, the presence of locally grown and produced strawberries [and] strawberry-based products will help further establish Brunei’s presence in the export scene.”
According to statistics by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA), Brunei’s food production last year stood at 6, 622 metric tonnes valued at more than $12 million, a 14 per cent increase from the previous year.
The statistics also showed that Brunei imported more than 45 tonnes (45, 556 kg) of strawberries last year.