BRUNEI-MUARA – Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), through its entrepreneurship arm LiveWIRE Brunei, will be allocating $1.65 million to fund the Agrobiz Padi Agroprenuer scheme under the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE), in hopes of boosting the nation’s rice self-sufficiency.

The two institutions signed an MoU on Wednesday aimed at tapping into the potential of agribusiness, strengthen Brunei’s export prospects and increase contribution to national GDP.

Some 10 hectares of paddy fields located at the IBTE AgroTechnology campus in Kg Wasan has been designated as a training ground for the future “agropreneurs” to acquire the knowledge and practical skills needed to be successful commercial farmers.

According to IBTE, the first planting cycle will begin in October 2019 and will be managed by the students under the supervision of an appointed project manager. 

Fifteen students, who are graduates of IBTE’s diploma in Crop and Livestock Production ,will begin training under the scheme in October.

Acting Minister of Education, Datin Seri Paduka Dr Hjh Romaizah Hj Mohd Salleh, in her speech said the number of youths venturing into the agricultural sector is low, because there is still a common misconception there is a lack of job prospects in farming and that it can be a risky endeavour.

She hoped that the partnership between IBTE and LiveWIRE Brunei will address this misconception and help “build confidence and develop and sustain the interests our young generation towards this sector”.

Each graduate will be trained for one year or two paddy cycles with 40 rice farmers turned into “agropreneurs” by the end of the training period.

They will also receive mentorship from LiveWIRE in entrepreneurship and commercial farm management. 

LiveWIRE Brunei will fund the scheme for three-and-a-half years or six cycles of planting, after which it will be handed over for IBTE to manage.

BSP’s Managing Director Dr Ceri Powell said the scheme will utilise high-yield rice varieties and modern machinery to improve yield and make production more efficient. T

Technology plays an important role in encouraging youth to join in and will produce innovative agropreneurs with a competitive edge, she said.

Trainees that have completed the programme will also have the opportunity to secure an interest-free loan from the LiveWIRE Business Award Startup Funding scheme.