Machine set to boost rice output

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds

TEMBURONG

TEMBURONG is expected to receive a boost in rice output after acquiring a rice mill capable of de-husking padi at a rate of 100 70-kilogramme padi gunny sacks per day.

The machine is capable of producing about 420 bags (10kg per bag) of rice per day.

The supply and installation of the nearly two-storey tall structure was carried out in the middle part of this year and was ready for use in early November, the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA) said yesterday.

A blessing ceremony for the new machine was held yesterday at the padi processing site near the padi fields in Kg Lekiun.

Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar launched the event by sprinkling scented flowers on the machine and switching it on for a demonstration.

On either side of the rice mill were sacks of the local Bario and Pusu rice produced by farmers of the district.

A local company has been contracted for six months to carry out padi processing work as well as to transport and arrange the gunny sacks in the district’s padi stores.

The minister also inspected the rice produced by the machine.

A rice mill or rice husker is an agricultural machine used to automate the process of removing the chaff and the outer husks of rice grain.

The acquisition of the machine was part of the DAA’s strategy to boost rice production under a national flagship project that was initiated in 2008 as a means to achieve food security through self-sufficiency.

A target of 60 per cent self-sufficiency in rice production has been set for 2015.

Brunei currently imports much of its rice needs from countries such as Thailand.

In the past, farmers relied on Brunei’s two rice milling machines of different sizes that were acquired in the mid-1990s.

On the sidelines of a signing ceremony for new rice mills from a Japanese company in August 2012, a DAA official explained that the acquisition of the new machines were crucial to cope with increasing domestic rice production and to address storage issues.

“It will speed up the process of post-harvest. At the moment, our machines can produce up to one tonne per hour as it is ageing, (and) cannot keep up with the amount of padi that we produce at the moment,” then Assistant Director Saidin Damit said in an interview.

He explained that the low processing capacity forced the department to store a large amount of unprocessed rice for longer periods of time, which can be damaging and therefore, compromise its quality.

The minister and the delegation later visited a local river where villagers have suggested would be suitable for the rearing of udang galah (freshwater prawn), which the district was known for.

The villagers started a pilot of 10 floating cages in October 2012, and the minister had a hand in harvesting some of the prawns yesterday.

The Brunei Times