Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman and Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arshad are briefed on the LiveWIRE AgroBiz Project by a student. PHOTOS: JAMES KON
BY James Kon
The School of Agro-Technology and Applied Sciences at the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE) notched another milestone on Tuesday, with the official padi-harvesting ceremony for the school’s first intake of HNTec students in the Agrotechnology Programme.
The students are specialising in the Rice Industry, under the tutelage of LiveWIRE AgroBiz Project.
Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman launched the harvesting ceremony at the IBTE Agro-Technology Campus (IBTE ATC) paddy fields in Kampong Wasan.
Deputy Minister of Education Datin Seri Paduka Dr Hajah Romaizah binti Haji Mohd Salleh, and Legislative Council (LegCo) members Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari and Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli bin Haji Arshad also attended.
LiveWIRE Brunei AgroBiz Project Chairperson Hajah Rosita binti Haji Hassan said, “The LiveWIRE AgroBiz Project was materialised on January 24, 2019, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IBTE and LiveWire Brunei, to develop 10 hectares of paddy fields as the training ground for young farmers from IBTE.
“This is part of preparations for these young farmers to become fully-fledged farmers and entrepreneurs after completing the programme. Within the duration of a year, thanks to the hard work of the relevant parties, we can see the fruits of success of the LiveWIRE AgroBiz Project today.”
Permanent Secretary (Higher Education) at the Ministry of Education Dr Haji Azman bin Ahmad harvesting the paddy
She added, “With national self-sufficiency in rice production at an estimated five per cent, it is of high hope that the LiveWIRE AgroBiz Project can support and realise the nation’s efforts to increase production to a higher level and at the same time produce trained young farmers.
“This is in line with 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’s titah during a Hari Raya celebration organised by Yayasan Sultan Haji HassanalBolkiah on June 27, 2019, whereby His Majesty urged youth, students and residents to continue being actively involved in farming or poultry-rearing, for the development of the nation’s agricultural sector,” she said.
In explaining the project, Hajah Rosita said, “A number of initiatives were carried out in the LiveWIRE AgroBiz Project to introduce modern and sustainable agriculture practices with the use of technology.”
To address water issues, “An irrigation system using the approach of collecting rainwater harvested from the roof of the IBTE campus and car park were channelled to the water reservoir, to ensure sufficient water for the farm. The irrigation system is connected to a nearby river to address any flooding during the wet season.”
She also revealed that the use of a drone for spraying fertiliser was “found to be very effective, because the spraying is consistent and saves time. For one hectare of a paddy field, it only takes around 10 minutes.
“In addition, the use of organic fertiliser and natural substances addresss the issue of pests more effectively, compared to using chemical fertiliser and pesticides.
“The organic fertiliser and natural pesticides come from local natural substances made by IBTE students in the AgroBiz organic fertiliser workshop. These products have the potential to be further developed commercially.”
The speech was followed with the launching of the paddy-harvesting ceremony by Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah, who also signed a plaque to mark the occasion.
Later, Permanent Secretary (Higher Education) at the Ministry of Education (MoE) Dr Haji Azman bin Ahmad and Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Hamid @ Sabli witnessed a drone in action over Plot 5, before joining the harvesting of the Sembada 188 rice crop at Plot 4 with a combine harvester.
Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP), through the LiveWIRE Brunei entrepreneurship and the Social Investment Flagship Programme, allocated funds to support the AgroBiz Padi Agropreneur scheme under IBTE, with the objective of providing young agropreneurs with adequate technical knowledge in rice-farming and the skills to develop their own rice farms and start up businesses.
These are achieved by developing infrastructure conducive to an effective training programme in rice production, with support from modern and green technology for water and crop management, as well as competent instructors.
LiveWIRE AgroBiz will be providing mentors and business management training throughout the project for 10 cycles of planting seasons (five batches of students), before handing over the programme to IBTE ATC.
The project is expected to produce around 100 young agropreneurs, who are expected to become farmers or service providers for the rice industry, where they can further explore business schemes offered by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood.
In addition, the students will also be given the opportunity to join LiveWIRE’s Business Awards Start-Up Funding Scheme, which can provide seed-funding to help early-stage agropreneurs to grow their businesses.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin