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 yesterday morning officiated the Sembada 'satu lapan lapan' Paddy Planting Ceremony at the 1st Phase of the Kandol Agriculture Development Area, in the Belait District. The new 500 hectare commercial paddy planting area is targeted to contribute 6 to 8 thousand metric tonnes of paddy by 2025, an increase of 11 to 15 percent of the country's rice demand. Also in attendance were His Majesty's sons, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office; His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik; and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Mateen.
Upon arrival at the Kandol Agriculture Development Area Paddy Farm, His Majesty was greeted by Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism; Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr. Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister of Finance and Economy and Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, Minister of Development as Co-Chairmen of the Belait District Kandol Area 500 hectare Commercial Paddy Planting Site Project Executive Committee. Also greeting the monarch were Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Ahmaddin bin Hj Abd Rahman, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy and Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Marzuke bin Haji Mohsin, Deputy Minister of Development as Chairman of the Technical and Infrastructure Committee for the Kandol Area Opening Project for Commercial Paddy Planting.
Soon after arrival, His Majesty heard a briefing on the 'Opening of the Kandol Agriculture Development Area as a Commercial Paddy Planting Site Project by Dayang Khairunnisa binti Haji Omar Ali, Head of the Paddy and Crop Protection Section, Department of Agriculture and Agrifood.
The briefing on the Infrastructure Construction Project was given by Dayang Alice Lim Sui Kau, Acting Director General of Public Works. The Kandol Agriculture Development Area Paddy Farm is equipped with appropriate infrastructure. Meanwhile the briefing on implementation of planting operations was made by Dayang Fuziah binti Haji Hamdan, Paddy Operations Manager, PaddyCo Sendirian Berhad. The paddy planting project is one of the efforts of His Majesty's government towards further increasing the production and self-sufficiency of the country's rice supply.
The opening ceremony commenced with a reading of Surah Al-Fatihah and Doa Selamat by Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Doctor Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.
His Majesty then made the titah for the opening of the Paddy Planting.
The monarch then proceeded to plant the paddy at Lot Satu using a paddy transplanter.
A Tausyeh Syukur presentation by undergraduates of Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University, UNISSA and Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University Collge, KUPU-SB accompanied the monarch throughout the paddy planting.
Joining His Majesty in the paddy planting were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Mateen.
His Majesty consented to the Opening of the Kandol Area as a new commercial paddy planting site project at the opening of last year's Knowledge Convention. Towards implementing this large scale project, the Project's Executive Committee, Infrastructure and Technical Committee as well as Investment and Operations Committee were set up. The project was divided into two phases. The first phase with an area of 20 hectares is expected to be completed by the end of this year while the second phase of 480 hectares is targeted to be completed by 2021. Also present were Cabinet Ministers, Deputy ministers, Heads of Diplomatic Missions to the country, members of the Legislative Council, Permanent Secretaries and Deputy Permanent Secretaries.
The paddy planted in Kandol is of the Sembada variety which has the potential of yielding 6 metric tonnes per hectare and will be planted twice a year. Syarikat Paddyco, a government owned company, is involved in paddy planting in the government's efforts to enhance self-sufficiency of the country's national rice supply.
His Majesty then proceeded to view an exhibition of the country's Agriculture and Agrifood Sector Development, presented by AWANG HAJI RUSALI BIN HAJI SAPAR, Acting Assistant Director of Agriculture and Agrifood. The sector's overall production value in the past 20 years has shown positive increase. Among the factors are transformations from conventional planting and husbandry systems to highly technological and modern ones.
The monarch also took a closer look at an exhibition showcased by agriculture entrepreneurs in the Belait District. The agriculture and agrifood sector production value for Belait District only, in the past ten years recorded an increase of 30 point 7 per cent.
His Majesty was also briefed on the Youth Paddy Project which is a joint venture between the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, Ministry of Primary resources and Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports through the Youth Development Centre. It is hoped to produce a young entrepreneur generation as the successors to continue sustainable paddy enterprises in the country.
Village residents in Mukim Bukit Sawat, Mukim Labi, Mukim Sukang and Mukim Melilas also showcased their One Village, One Product handicrafts.
Before departing the function, His Majesty received junjung ziarah from members of the function's committee. The presence of the monarch at the function portrays His Majesty's serious care and attention in ensuring the country's food security, specifically rice supply, is assured.
Source: Radio Television Brunei