BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Brunei's monarch has called for more aggressive measures to increase the sultanate's rice production.
In a speech delivered during the maiden harvest of Sembada 188, a new variety of rice, on Tuesday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah called on government agencies and other relevant parties to work together to increase the yield of rice in the country.
Brunei aims to cover 22 percent of its rice requirements by 2020, a jump from its self-sufficiency rate of only six percent in 2015.
"May this (initial harvest of the Sembada 188 variety) be one of the early steps that will be followed by more aggressive steps towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice in Brunei," the country's leader said.
The new strain of rice was developed through a research collaboration between Brunei's Department of Agriculture and Agrifood and Indonesia's Biogene Plantation. The crop was planted in a 38.2 hectare site last October.
According to information from Brunei's Prime Minister's Office, the introduction of the high yielding hybrid rice variety is one of the steps undertaken by the government to help the sultanate improve rice sufficiency. The breed, which takes approximately 110 days to ripen, is expected to provide an average yield of five to six metric tonnes per season.
Brunei is also developing more land for agricultural use.
Local daily the Borneo Bulletin quoted the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism as saying that more areas have already been identified for the cultivation of rice.
"His Majesty has already consented to the opening of a new area for commercial rice cultivation in the Kandol area of the Belait District, covering 500 hectares of land. It is hoped that this will further boost our country's rice production," Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Haji Ali was quoted as saying.
Data from the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood showed that Brunei produced more than 2,300 metric tonnes of paddy across over 1,300 hectares of land in 2017. Production of local rice totaled more than 1,500 metric tonnes.
The sultanate imported over 30, 600 metric tonnes of rice in that same year. A majority of these were imported from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.