BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) has tabled an $84.38 million budget for the 2023/34 fiscal year, with a focus on increasing food production output.

The budget represents a 12.2% decrease from the previous year.

Speaking at the Legislative Council, Primary Resources and Tourism Minister Dato Dr Hj Abdul Manaf Hj Metussin said the ministry is determined to increase food production to ensure both national food security and the growth of exports.

“As a whole, our food production performance – which includes output from agriculture, agri-food, and fishing – has recorded an increase of 3.13%, growing from $781.26 million in 2021 to $805.75 million in 2022,” said the minister.

The ministry is also carrying out various pilot projects involving high-yielding rice hybrids that could potentially produce 7.5MT/ha in a season.

“Our goal is to increase rice production from 4 to 5 metric tons per hectare a season through the planting of Sembada 188 to 7 to 8 metric tons per hectare a season in the near future,” said the minister.

The ministry is mulling over the prospect of growing rice internationally with investments through government-linked companies, Dato Dr Hj Abdul Manaf added.

He was responding to a suggestion made by Legislative Council member Pehin Dato Hj Adanan regarding the possibility of growing rice regionally, specifically in countries such as Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.

“In close cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Economy, we are looking at the possibility of our GLCs investing with suitable partners in neighbouring countries to not only grow rice here but internationally for a secure rice stock,” said the minister.

Plans are also underway to expand the variety of export products to include poultry meat and processed meat-based products after seeing a 20.4% increase in export value in 2022.

Agriculture and fisheries product exports recorded an increase from $53.53 million in 2021 to $64.44 million in 2022.

In February, two shipments of chicken eggs were exported to Singapore with the first amounting to 300,000 eggs and sea bass fillets were also exported in August last year.

According to the minister, Brunei is currently 100% self-sufficient in eggs and poultry, and 85% self-sufficient in fisheries.