BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) has allocated over 32 percent of its proposed $96.13 million budget for development projects to boost food security.

MPRT’s proposed budget for the 2022/23 financial year represents a 40.1 percent hike from the previous year.

Speaking at the Legislative Council on Sunday, MPRT ministerYB Dato Hj Ali Apong said $12.3 million will be set aside for agricultural development for rice production, which includes $10 million to expand paddy cultivation areas in Kandol, Belait.

Another $5 million will go towards increasing vegetable output and another $3 million will be spent on boosting livestock production.

Domestic agri output increases despite labour issues

The minister said the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the operations of local agricultural businesses due to the difficulty of bringing in farm workers from overseas.

There were also problems acquiring raw materials such as seeds and fertilisers, he added.

However, the gross output in the agriculture and agri-food industry increased by 24.6 percent, from $471 million in 2020 to $587 million in 2021.

Last year, Brunei’s broiler production was the highest ever recorded, increasing 22.3 percent to 30,555 metric tonnes. 

MPRT reported a 99.4 percent growth in buffalo meat and beef production in 2021. 

YB Dato Hj Ali added that Brunei reached an 8.71 percent self-sufficiency rate in rice production, after paddy output rose 6.4 percent in 2021.

More investment into fisheries

YB Dato Hj Ali said a $14 million project to upgrade the Muara Fish Landing Complex will be complete in 2023.

To reduce dependence on the government budget, several projects will be executed through public-private partnerships, he said.

MPRT plans to spend a further $7 million to support the development of the fisheries sector this year.

In terms of gross output, the sector grew 37.4 percent to $191 million in 2021.

With a domestic self-sufficiency rate of 87 percent, the minister said fisheries output increased to 19,699 metric tonnes in 2021.