By improving the non-oil and gas industries, it can contribute towards the Gross Domestic Product as part of our National Vision 2035. With that said, agriculture has become increasingly important for the country due to the industry’s ability to be a sustainable economy for the nation and making the country less reliant on imports from other countries.
This year’s theme for the annual Knowledge Convention was ‘Agriculture Sector: Survivability of Race and Nation’ acknowledges the importance of developing the agricultural sector as a way for the nation to survive.
“Agriculture is a field that determines our survival as an independent nation.That is why there should not be any more excuses to develop the agriculture sector. Everyone should venture into farming,” said His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in his Titah at this year’s Knowledge Convention.
His Majesty touched on the importance of agriculture towards developing the nation, and the need to help to combat global warming. With technology and education, the agriculture produce will increase but the country need the nation to contribute to the industry especially youth and women.
A seminar titled The Role of Women in the Agricultural Sector pressed on how women can contribute to agricultural sector, most importantly in the business side.
Even though agriculture business is important to contribute in the country’s economy, women can also contribute in various aspects of agriculture as there are opportunities available in the sector.
“Even in the food industry value chain, there are many opportunities for women to undertake as it is a long process from the farms to markets – for example the research department, marketing and sales. These are just some of the departments that women can undertake to improve the food industry in Brunei,” said NurLiyana Fatin binti Arifin, President of Young Entrepreneurs Association of Brunei.
For youth in Brunei it was highlighted during a seminar titled The Involvement of the Society, Specifically Youth in the Agricultural Sector, that there is a lack of interest in agriculture and the urban perception of cultivation in the minds of youth.
“It is unfortunate that this industry is unpopular particularly to the youth, and there is a lack of exposure towards agriculture for the youth. Neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Philippines have a head start by implementing an educational programme for their youth to learn farming at a young age,” said Hj Awang Muliadi bin Awang Moksin, Manager of Marsya Farm.
He exaggerated the importance of instilling the interest of agriculture at a young age. “While the country does have a technical school for agriculture in Wasan, it would be great if the country if the knowledge of agriculture can be taught at an earlier age,” he continued.
If the country introduced programmes at schools to allow students to learn the basics of agriculture, it will be able to promote an interest to take up farming, even as an extra-curricular activity.
“The younger generation prefers a desk job, giving a perception that working in a farm is uninteresting and tedious. Over 70% of the population consists of youth in Brunei, so it would make sense that the government changes the perception and make working in agriculture as valuable as working in an office or as an engineer,” said Hj Irwandy bin Hj Lois, Manager of Ameenfarm Agrotech and Trading.
Efforts have been made by the government and private companies to make agriculture appealing to the youth in the country. One such action is providing training and facilities for the youth to try their hand at cultivation. During the Knowledge Convention, His Majesty announced the opening of a 500-hectare commercial rice field at Belait. The effort will encourage more people to be involved and contribute in the sector.
Private sectors have also introduced farming to students through programmes such as AgromeIQ’s farm-to-school program and Agropreneur Academy by Ameenfarm. These programmes aim to educate students on the basics of agriculture and promotes farming as an interesting career.
There are many opportunities and efforts made by government and private institutions that helps women and youth to contribute into the agricultural sector, as this is necessary to create a nation that is able to be self-sufficient, and at the same time assist the country in achieving its National Vision 2035.