Don’t rely on foreign workers, farmers told
THE Minister of Home Affairs yesterday urged locals with farm lands granted by the government to avoid being over reliant on foreign workers to manage their farms.
Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman said this on the sidelines of a site visit to Kg Lumapas Village Consultative Council yesterday.
The minister explained that the government granted said farmers a lease on the lands to provide the locals and permanent residents an opportunity to contribute to the country’s economic growth.
“But recent reports said that it was as if these foreign workers had become the owners of the farm, while the real ones only remain as owners by name, receiving the output by the end of the month,” he said.
“And this is not healthy, both to our economy and to our long-term population,” he added.
Although this may be profitable, YB Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Awang Badaruddin discouraged such practice as it would prevent future generations from developing the skills and capabilities required to manage farms.
“It is appropriate that we both come down to the field together and learn to manage the farm.”
The minister also clarified that he did not mean farm owners should not depend on foreign workers because their expertise is in demand for more joint ventures and foreign direct investments, different from the past where locals can farm the fields by themselves.
YB Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Awang Badaruddin, meanwhile, said yesterday’s visit to the Lumapas Village Consultative Council was conducted to monitor the development of the farm since it was launched in 2013.
It was previously reported that the farm was a project developed to boost the village’s economy and self-sufficiency, especially through the output of its chilli plantations.
He lauded the diligence displayed by the participants, especially in realising their plan to proceed with the chilli farms on the 100-acre land granted by the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources for farming purposes.
“They had chosen to focus on chilli plants for now. If the output is encouraging, it will then become the (leading product) here,” said the minister.
The Brunei Times