BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Agriculture subsidies rose 40 per cent to $7 million for the 2017/18 financial year as part of the government’s efforts to develop Brunei’s agricultural and agrifood sectors.

“A total of $7 million in subsidies have been given to farmers in the 2017/18 financial year compared to $5 million in 2016/17 financial year”, said the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Dato Seri Paduka Awang Ahmaddin Hj Abdul Rahman.

Speaking at the second day of the Knowledge Convention on Wednesday, he urged more entrepreneurs to be part the industry, noting that the government provides a 50 percent subsidy off the market price for fertiliser, pesticides and machinery, and also can provide agricultural infrastructure.

Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Dato Awang Ahmaddin, delivers his speech on the second day of Knowledge Convention held at the International Convention Centre in Berakas. Photo: Infofoto

In a speech delivered at the convention, Dato Awang Ahmaddin said the agriculture is one of the key industries outside of oil and gas that can to contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.

The country’s agriculture sector has shown a 91 percent increase in production between 2007 and 2017, with revenue growing from $200 million to $380 million.

This represents a 7.71 percent average annual growth rate, the deputy minister said.

During a panel discussion, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism’s (MPRT), Pg Hj Kamarulzaman Pg Hj Mohd Ishak, outlined the growth in different agriculture sub-sectors.

The livestock sector has grown from generating $66 million in revenue in 1998 to raking in $200 million in revenue last year.

“The value of the livestock industry has increased three times and broilers contributed to 50 percent of the total value of livestock industry output,” said Pg Hj Kamarulzaman.

Crop output doubled over the same period — from $27 million in 1998 to $60 million in 2017 — growing 4.28 percent per annum.

The permanent secretary said that Brunei has seen more entrepreneurs entering the agriculture industry, with many of them using modern farming techniques over conventional methods.

The government is pushing more farmers to adopt modern farming technology and techniques — such as vertical farming, greenhouses, hydroponics, and fertigation — to boost productivity and reduce unit costs.

HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah (C) and HRH Prince Abdul Malik attending the second day of the Knowledge Convention at the International Convention Centre on Nov 28, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

The article was updated on November 29, 2018 at 4.25pm