News From : DagangHalal.com (26 Aug 2009)
PHILRICE, Nueva Ecija- A bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Brunei under the Brunei Darussalam-Philippines Agricultural Cooperation Project (Brunei-RP ACP) is expected to increase the exchange of technological expertise and trade of agricultural products between the two countries, among other mutual benefits.
At a recent bilateral meeting, the status of a rice planting project in Wasan was assessed, possible agribusiness ventures in Mindanao assessed, and the possibility of using Brunei’s halal brand on Philippine products explored.
The Brunei-RP ACP is an initiative between Brunei’s Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) and its Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Philippines’ own DA through the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
It aims to increase Brunei’s 3.15 percent rice self-sufficiency level to 20 percent by 2010.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei inaugurated the first harvest of Brunei’s “Laila padi” at Wasan on August 3.
“We have seen a 2-percent- to 3-percent increase in productivity and we’re planning to push more production,” MIPR Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar said.
Brunei’s agriculture acting director Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM DSU (Dr.) Hj Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri said harvesting “Laila” shows that the variety can be planted in Brunei, and noted it may be the key to Brunei’s quest for increased production.
Hilario de la Cruz, team leader of the BD-RP rice technical cooperation project, said, “Brunei rice-farm soils are mostly acid sulfate, which causes yellowing of leaves, stunted growth and lower photosynthetic activity.” He added that the Laila variety survived despite Brunei’s poor soil type. Because of this, the rice self-sufficiency efforts will now be brought to the district level, he said.
Hanah Hazel Mavi Biag, science research specialist 1 of PhilRice, said a four-pronged two-year capacity-building program on rice production was likewise proposed for Brunei’s extension workers (EWs) and farmers.
Brunei EWs will be sent to the Philippines for a four-month capacity-enhancement training course and will be tasked to facilitate conduct of farmers’ field schools (FFS) upon their return to Brunei, Biag added.
Biag explained the DA-PhilRice experts will assist trained EWs in establishing FFS, where potential participants will be graduates from Wasan Vocational School. She added that trainings would include actual field demonstrations, focused group discussions and lectures.
Likewise, Filipino rice technical experts will be dispatched to Brunei on technology promotion, varietal development, nutrient management, farm machinery and seed production, among others. Biag noted that the two countries will enter into a standard material-transfer agreement for the exchange of seeds and other rice genetic materials for breeding, varietal testing, adaptation trials and commercial release in Brunei.
Brunei-Philippines agricultural cooperation covers the proposal for investments in agribusiness estates in Mindanao and will explore producing commercial rice and high-value crops in the region.
Brunei’s halal brand was proposed to be used on Philippine products that guarantee products meet quality, safety and sustainability standards for Muslim consumers.
Ghanim International Food Corp., a company run by Ireland-based Kerry group, and the Brunei government will market Brunei halal-branded products, Biag said.
Written by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro / Correspondent
Source: BusinessMirror Online Space