Local company harvests first certified rice seed crop

National 2 minutes, 24 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

AFTER being awarded 10 hectares of land to produce certified seeds for farming, Pakatan Mekar Hijau Sdn Bhd (SPMH) has harvested their first seed crop.

In July 2014, SPMH was given land at the Wasan padi field to grow crops to produce certified MRQ76 seeds for the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism.

According to the department, SPMH is one of three companies that have been awarded land to produce certified seeds. The other two are Yaqmon Enterprise and MBK.

SPMH Executive Director Dato Hj Jumat Hj Zakaria said the first cropping of seeds is expected to produce three tonnes per hectare, which is less than the average production from mature fields of five or six tonnes.

He said the harvest’s expected low yield is because the site is still new, but he is confident that the next crop season will show an improved yield performance.

“Now that we have some experience, we can identify our weaknesses and problem areas. For the next (harvest), we will continue to improve and rectify the problems, right from the land preparations to the post-harvest stage.”

Dato Hj Jumat said the company faced a number of challenges after being awarded the land which led to a delay in the start of planting, including soil, pests, diseases and the weather.

The Agrifood and Agriculture Department and agriculture experts have helped the company overcome these challenges, he said, adding that the next crop cycle is hoped to be improved by enhancing the soil fertility, as it will reduce soil acidity.

He also hopes the challenges from pests and diseases will be reduced for the next crop, noting that the company has made a sizeable investment in infrastructure, equipment and personnel since acquiring the 10 hectares of land to ensure that seed production runs smoothly.

Dato Hj Jumat said the seeds harvested yesterday will undergo various post-harvest processes before going through the final inspection and evaluation by the department.

“The department’s inspector will have to come here after and collect the seeds for laboratory testing. If they are pure MRQ76 seeds, then they are certified seeds,” he said.

MRQ76, which stands for Malaysian Rice Quality 76, has an average yield of four metric tonnes per hectare – one metric ton more than the average yield that Laila rice can produce. Laila rice padi seedlings are also planted by local farmers. Another advantage of MRQ76 over Laila is that it appears to have a better resistance to diseases and pests.

Dato Hj Jumat advised those interested in venturing into the business of seed production to continue to develop their knowledge and to remain committed.

“It’s a worthwhile enterprise to get into. You can expect up to a 60 per cent net profit per harvest if you achieve your target. Seed production is also one of the requirements for any country that plants rice.”

The Brunei Times