Bruneians unfazed by global food supply, inflation woes

, National 3 minutes, 15 seconds


NOTHING has changed significantly about how Bruneians view food security despite global food supply concerns hogging headlines and the fact that Brunei depends heavily on imports to keep grocery shelves packed with basic goods.

An informal poll by The Brunei Times shows that most Bruneians acknowledge they are lucky they do not have to contend with food supply woes affecting other countries.

Some, however, are not even aware that basic staples such as rice have increasingly become a potent source of social unrest in countries whose domestic production is diminishing.

It doesn't help that weeks since the global supply of rice, a common staple food in Asia, triggered frenzied transactions between net importers and those with excess supply, government agencies concerned in Brunei have yet to speak up on the issue.

Or perhaps it's because Brunei's food supply chain has been so that locals are shielded from the adverse effects of market forces.

Take the view of Yasmin, a land management instructor and a mother of one: "The way I see it, it has to do with the thoughts and what you focus on thinking. In Brunei we don't really feel the pinch of the problems in global food supplies, so we do not really think about it and I do not expect that we would experience it also in the future."

She added: "They always say if you think that it is going to happen, then it will. We still have it easy and there is not much to complain about, it is hard to see and imagine people who suffer this problem in other countries."

Some maintain a positive view to the future.

"I'm not sure how it will impact Brunei," said Tan Mui Lan, mother of three.

If the supply crisis does impact Brunei, it would not be felt much "unless the supply is cut down and the food prices are really increased by a lot," said Ng Mei Hwa, mother of two.

Many other mothers share the observation that many Bruneians tend to waste food.

"In Brunei everyone takes for granted how much food is available," said Kavita Kaur, mother of two.

"Some of my friends buy more than five boxes of cereal at one time and the children never finish them, and (they) end up buying more and throwing half-empty boxes."

"When Giant (Brunei) opened you see these families buying food in abundance just because the price is cheap," said Hjh Wadihah Hj Moksin, mother of three who are all employed now.

"I think it's crazy to buy a trolley full of instant noodles just because it saves you a few cents per packet ... it's just being greedy! I heard from a friend that ... these families are buying five to 10 sacks of rice! It's like Brunei is running out of food.

Some, however, suspect that there is quite a number of households that do feel what little impact global food prices have on price tags in Brunei.

"I do have some sense that some are finding it financially tight to stretch their monthly income," said Shima, manager of a restaurant and a mother.

Seri Aini, a schoolteacher and a mother, said she is aware of the severity of the food problem in other countries.

"We have to educate ourselves to be more aware of what's happening outside Brunei," she said.

"We don't get taxed, staples are subsidised. Life is actually good in Brunei, we just need to be careful with our own spending waste not, want not."

Some others are more concerned about food quality.

"For me, what is important is as long as it is Halal and in Brunei with good food control I do not have any problems with (food supply)" said, Rohani Osman, a mother.

The Brunei Times