‘Youth must see agriculture as a business opportunity’

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BRUNEI’S youth must look at agriculture as a business opportunity, said an agribusiness specialist.

Dr Amin Mugera, an agribusiness specialist at the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) School of Agriculture and Resource Economics, said the sultanate, like many other countries in the world, is struggling to attract and convince it’s youth to take up agriculture.

He attributed this to several factors.

Part of it is due to their upbringing. These young people grow up seeing their parents struggle and agriculture is a very risky business, he said.

“The children have seen how their parents struggle and because of that they are going to make a conscious decision to not have a livelihood like their parents,” he added.

“The other reason is that the parents themselves will tell their children to go to school and study hard because the parents do not want their children to struggle the way they have struggled. This is because agriculture has always been an uncertain business,” he said, adding that agriculture yield can be affected by weather, pests and irrigation problems, among others.

“People have always compared incomes of lawyers, accountants or teachers (to farmers). They see that most people have a stable income but when they look at agriculture they don’t see where the next income is going to come from,” he said.

Dr Amin was recently in Brunei to participate in a three-day ‘Facilitating Agribusiness Development in Brunei Darussalam’ workshop.

The workshop, held at the Civil Service Institute, was attended by 52 government officers and private sector stakeholders.

The workshop looks to explore the limitations and opportunities within Brunei’s agriculture and agribusiness sector.

It was funded by the Australia-ASEAN Council, a government body that aims to strengthen links with Southeast Asian nations.

In another interview with an adjunct senior research fellow from UWA, Professor Peter J Batt said, “At this point in time, Brunei wants to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). (Brunei has) the land, labour and resources, so let’s get the technology to come in to address issues related to agriculture,” he said.

Professor Batt is an adjunct senior research fellow within the University Of Western Australia Institute of Agriculture.

“If you want foreign investors to come in, you need to be able to put in resources to the land. In other words, roads, water, electricity and telecommunication... all these things need to be in place so that investors can do business,” he said.

The Brunei Times