Strategic plan targets $612m farm output
THE Department of Agriculture yesterday launched the medium-term strategic plan for 2008-2013 which will serve as a roadmap for the development of agricultural sector over the five-year period.
The launch, officiated by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar at the Empire Hotel and Country Club, will steer the department towards achieving the agricultural production target of $612 million in 2013 and eventually, $2.7 billion in 2023.
In 2008, Brunei's agricultural production output was recorded at $225.44 million.
In her remarks, Acting Agriculture Director Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM DSU (Dr) Hj Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri said that this 171 per cent increase in agricultural output by 2013 would be driven by four flagship programmes, namely increasing local padi production, the Brunei Halal Brand, development of the livestock industry and increasing production of agrifood.
Apart from that, the department will also develop production of other commodities such as vegetables, fruits, flowers and decorative plants, traditional medicine, biotechnology in agriculture and various areas of livestock.
The minister highlighted that apart from diversifying the nation's economy, the agricultural sector has the potential to contribute to ensuring food security, biodiversity resources, growth of the agro-industry, employment opportunities and maintaining the natural eco-system.
In this regard, Pehin Dato Hj Yahya said that the challenge was to ensure that sustainable efforts were being made in developing this sector.
"I wish to stress that the basis of agricultural development for the next two decades will be directed at efforts to strengthen the capacity in the agricultural sector, not only in increasing primary agricultural commodity production sustainably, but more so in the development of the capacity of the secondary sector, which is in food processing that will invite more agri-business opportunities, locally and internationally," he said.
The minister said the agri-business sector was expanding and included the sale of various foodstuff, health food products and biological elements, which has high value in today's economy.
He said that the country was tapping into this sector through its niche product, the Brunei Halal Brand.
The implementation of projects under the medium-term strategic plan demanded the development of human workforce, he said.
"We must raise the human workforce to a professional level. In this respect, I welcome the cooperation from the Ministry of Education in its efforts to increase the knowledge and expertise of the human workforce," he said.
Pehin Dato Hj Yahya also pointed out the need to increase cooperation with higher learning institutions as well as vocational and technical schools.
The medium-term strategic plan comprehensively encompasses a host of projects, which will be implemented within the set time period, in line with the current National Development Plan.
The Brunei Times