New project aims to boost youth in agriculture

JUNE 28, 2024

Brunei’s youth need alternative forms of employment as the nation diversifies and public sector job opportunities become more limited, said Executive Director of the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) Dr Diana Cheong. She was speaking at the launch of a pioneering project aimed at promoting youth engagement and employment in Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Agriculture and Food Systems.

Dr Cheong highlighted that farming is often seen as unattractive to young people globally due to its manual and physically challenging nature. The new project, “Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Agriculture and Food Systems for Food Security: An Action Research on the Rice Value Chain in Brunei Darussalam,” aims to change this perception by introducing smart farming technology. “This study aims to propose ways to encourage youth engagement in rice farming, through the use of smart farming technology to alleviate some of the challenges of conventional farming,” she said.

The project, launched at the Lecture Theatre, CSPS Building, is the first Bruneian initiative to receive funding from the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Republic of Korea (ROK) Cooperation Fund (BKCF). A total of 110 youths attended the launch.

Leading the project alongside Dr Cheong are CSPS Researcher Dr Kartini Rahman, and CSPS Agriculture Policy and Agribusiness Value Chain Expert Dr Roberto Acosta. The project aims to identify efficiency and quality improvements in Brunei’s rice value chain, analyse policy impacts, and develop collaborative strategies. It will also implement a pilot bio-circular-green rice value chain project with youth and MSMEs as key participants, ultimately enhancing food security and rice self-sufficiency in Brunei Darussalam.

The initiative involves multiple stakeholders, including the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE), Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT), Ministry of Education (MOE), and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS). A Project Steering Committee, comprising Deputy Permanent Secretaries and Directors from these ministries, has been established to provide high-level guidance.

The project also focuses on broader goals such as developing Brunei’s labor structure and exploring economic diversification. Youth volunteers will benefit from exposure and basic training in the use of drones, potentially becoming licensed drone pilots for agriculture. They will also learn about global standards of farming, digital farming technology, data analytics, IoT, and AI in farming and food production.

The launch event featured promotional videos and a Q&A session with a panel of experts. Attendees also participated in a rice-tasting session of locally produced rice, sponsored by the Agriculture Department.