Villagers make their mark
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
VILLAGERS have shown their creativity in promoting home-grown products since the ‘One Village One Product’ (OVOP) initiative was first introduced in Brunei in the 90s.
Focusing on the roles of mukim and village consultative councils, the project has progressed rapidly followed by the establishment of a unit under the Ministry of Home Affairs in March 2010 to implement the initiative.
Through this unit, various programmes have been taking place to guide and provide demonstration to the members of mukim and village consultative councils to develop their products.
The OVOP are divided into five categories namely food products, handicraft, agriculture, fishery and livestock products as well as services such as homestay programmes.
Among other efforts to further increase the quality of the products and making them more marketable is the implementation of a biennial Excellent Village Award (AKC) at National Level.
The award aims to promote and enhance cooperation and the spirit of community service, to foster a culture of self-help and independence, as well as to showcase successful villages as exemplary and guidance to other villages.
It is also to improve the effectiveness of the leadership of the community leaders as chairmen of the village consultative councils.
The village participation in the AKC has been increasing since it was held in 2010.
The first two competitions only saw the participation of 31 and 58 village consultative councils, respectively.
However, the number has increased significantly to 104 village consultative councils during the third AKC 2012-2013.
An official said previously the increasing numbers of participating villages was because the ministry had been monitoring the development of each village, including supporting the progress of OVOP.
Related officers has brought all village heads together, briefed them about the benefits of participating the AKC and provided guidance in terms of what needs to be prepared.
Throughout the country there are a total of 171 village consultative councils.
During the AKC prize giving ceremony which was presented by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last February, Kg Kapok of Mukim Serasa was awarded silver, the first village who won the category as no village has won higher than bronze.
The village, where colourful banana crisps in five flavours is produced, was given a grant of $40,000 for development projects as well as a $15,000 cash prize.
No village won the gold award. Meanwhile, the bronze award went to Kg Kiudang of Tutong District for its 3MPK Herbal Tea and Wasai Bedanu Recreational Park.
A grant of $30,000 and $10,000 prize money were also given.
The participating villages were judged based on their development and achievements which cover five aspects.
First aspect includes religious, welfare, community, sports, culture and safety; second is the management and administration aspect; third is the economy aspect; fourth is the education aspect; and the fifth aspect comprises of liveliness, beauty and cleanliness.
Hj Abd Wahab Apong, penghulu Mukim Tanjong Maya in Tutong District recently said that AKC is one of the ways to encourage the villagers towards creating well-developed and excellent villages.
He stressed the importance of enhancing the village competitiveness not only in the socio-economic aspect, but also in the safety aspect.
He also hoped that all village consultative councils will be participating in the AKC, not just for the competition but to strive for the benefits of the mukim and village.
The Brunei Times reported that Tanjong Maya has been producing virgin coconut oil (VCO) as part of its OVOP initiative since 2008.
Its Mukim Consultative Council has invested in the development of VCO production within Kg Tanjong Maya, as the village is known for its relatively high production of coconuts.
In 2011 the council trained 40 village entrepreneurs on the manufacturing process of VCO products.
The training involved educating the entrepreneurs and members of the cooperative on the technical aspects of VCO extraction and production, including the creation of other by-products such as soaps and creams.
VCO is a vital commodity in some pharmaceutical and beauty products and is traditionally used by women to enhance facial and skin tone.
In addition to that, members of the council completed training on agarwood (gaharu) production at the end of 2012.
InsyaAllah, villagers will take the benefit of their time to produce the agarwood as another home-grown products.
The Brunei Times