Bandar Seri Begawan - The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has turned down a request to provide initiatives fig the cultivation of rubber and sugarcane.
YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, informed the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday that developing the rubber and sugarcane plantations will harm the environment.
YB Orang Kaya Jaya Putera Dato Paduka Awang Haji Muhammad Taha bin Abd Rauf said that the local rubber industry flourished before the Japanese Occupation when the industry was one of the main sources of income for Bruneians.
"During the occupation, rubber was harvested twice a day which indicated that the income from rubber plantation was lucrative."
He called on the government to take proactive steps to review the policy on rubber plantations.
In response, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya said that the development of rubber plantations would entail harmful risks to the environment.
The market risk for rubber should be also understood such as the types of diseases that may hit the crop, he said.
He said that rubber plantations in Malaysia had been exposed to a root disease which could spread to other valuable crops.
There have also been cases of the manufacture of "fake" or synthetic rubber. He said, "This has caused the market value for rubber to drop drastically because of the competition coming from fake products which has happened in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia."
Natural rubber is made from the sap of certain trees and plants, while "fake" or synthetic rubber is manufactured in a factory.
YB Awang Haji Jumat bin Akim, meanwhile, suggested that the ministry should conduct a research into sugar cane plantations in order to produce sugar locally and reduce the dependence on imported sugar.
In reply, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya, said, "Before any decision is made, we should take into account that the land used for plantations in Brunei is very limited, especially to find fertile land.
"We (the ministry) will only focus on the development of the main crops such as rice, local fruits and vegetables. As of now, the ministry has not supported any initiative for the cultivation of rubber and sugar cane plantations as it will affect the environment of our country," he said.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin