Memorandum of Understanding signed between Bruneian, Chinese companies at 10th CAEXPO
Nanning, China: The establishment of an 'Agricultural Industrial Park', a joint venture between a Bruneian and Chinese company covering a plantation area of 80 hectares in Brunei Darussalam, moved a step closer to reality following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the 10th China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, China.
However, the joint venture project is still subject to approval from the relevant government authorities in the Sultanate. For now, it is in the pipeline sometime this year, the Bulletin has learnt.
The project was first proposed in September last year during the 9th CAEXPO.
The MoU was signed yesterday between Asia Enterprise, a Bruneian company, which was represented by its president, Mr Chai Yum Fatt, and China's Guangxi Mingming Agriculture Co Ltd, which was represented by its president, Mr Shi Ming.
On hand to witness the signing of the MoU was Mr Wang Jiaxin, Director General of the Economic and Commercial Office; Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Brunei Darussalam.
Speaking to the Bulletin, Mr Chai shared that the proposal, costing about four million Brunei dollars and funded by both companies, has been submitted, and approval is currently being sought from relevant government agencies in the Sultanate for the provision of land in the suburbs of Brunei, most likely in Labi or Temburong.
If given the green light, the project will take about five years to complete in two phases.
"Initially 40 hectares will be developed to yield cash flow so as to keep the momentum of development and investment. We forecast to produce vegetables, rice, fruit, rearing of chicken in the fruits planting area and fish in the reservoir. At the same time, a training centre to train local personnel will also be established," he said.
Within the proposed 80 hectares of land will be 13 hectares for agricultural sightseeing greenhouse and self-held tasting area, 66 hectares for agriculture planting area and one hectare for a training centre.
Guangxi Mingming will introduce China's advanced cultivation techniques and train local farmers, which is expected to create new employment and popularise the cultivation of vegetables and fruits to meet local market demand.
Apart from expanding rice cultivation in Brunei to achieve food supply self-sufficiency, the project will also bring about other benefits such as increasing vegetable varieties and promoting pollution-free S vegetables and enriching fresh vegetables supply to meet the market demand. Both companies will also experiment the plantation of variety of fruits to supply the local market.
In addition, the chicken breeding technique will make use of the fruit planting area as the feeding ground for chickens.
"Currently most of the agricultural products are imported from other countries. The level of self-sufficiency in agricultural products is still very low and this project supports Brunei Darussalam's strong push in agriculture develOpment," Mr Chai explained.
Both parties signing the MoU yesterday also recognised the support given by the I3runei Government in promoting agricultural development.
"The (Brunei) Government currently offers subsidies on rice seedlings, fertilisers, agricultural machinery and the purchase of rice," a text contained in the MoU stated, adding that infrastructures such as water, electricity, roads and irrigation are also provided.
"Once the Brunei Agriculture Industrial Park is approved by the relevant government agencies, the two parties shall form an establishment in Brunei Darussalam according to the Brunei Foreign Investment Act," it added.
Guangxi Mingming is currently engaged in the construction of an agricultural production demonstration base, as well as the promotion and demonstration of agricultural science and technology fruits and vegetables plantation, rice cultivation and processing, livestock breeding, products marketing, trade and technical services in Brunei.
The company employs a number of technicians who have long been engaged in rice and vegetable cultivation, including more than 20 experts and skilled workers who participated in the pilot rice cultivation project in Brunei.
Brunei's Asia Enterprise is, meanwhile, the largest dealer in chemical fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and agricultural machinery in the Sultanate, with a number of outlets, playing an important role in local agricultural production. The company, which is also the largest commercial producer of Tice in Brunei, is currently harvesting 35 acres worth of Laila padi crops, from its total 50 acres in Kg Wasan padi fields.
"(Brunei's) Asia Enterprise is confident and has high enthusiasm in the project with Guangxi Ming Ming," said Mr Chaff.