Brunei: Canadian firm to assist with Food Development Centre

Development in both the agricultural and agrifood sectors has shown positive levels of growth, seeing the progression from traditional agriculture methods to a modern and systematic agriculture practice that utilises advanced technology.

Production of agricultural commodities had increased from B$171.75 million in 2006 to $228.43 million in 2010, while statistics from 2011 showed that the agrifood industry had achieved B$57.13 million – exceeding the targeted $56.5 million. By 2023, the expected target is $1.87 million.

Among the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood’s projects to achieve this goal is the establishment of a Food Development Centre (FDC).

The department has thus appointed Agriteam Canada Consulting Ltd to implement the establishment of the Food Development Centre project, which is one of the projects falling under the Agrifood Development and Agriculture Biotechnology Programme of the National Development Plan 2007-2012.

To officially mark the appointment, an agreement signing was held at the Indera Kayangan Ballroom of the Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.

Present as guests of honour were the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar and the Minister of International Trade of Canada, Mr Edward Fast.

The Acting Director of Agriculture and Agrifood, Hjh Aidah binti Hj Mohd Hanifah signed on behalf of the department, while Agriteam was represented by its Project Manager, Mr Guy Innes.

Meanwhile, signing as witnesses were the Head of the Agrifood Development Division, Hjh Khartini Hj Musa and Agriteam Project Coordinator Hj Bakri Hj Momin.

Also present were the Permanent Secretary at MIPR, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Hj Awg Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri; the Canadian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Mackenzie Clugston; Deputy Permanent Secretaries at MIPR, Hjh Hasnah binti Ibrahim and Mohd Riza bin Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yunos; as well as senior government officials.

The establishment of the FDC serves as one of the departmental strategies to centralise all activities related to research and development, technical services and technology transfer to local agrifood industry under one roof.

The project is set with the main objectives of enhancing production of quality and safe local processed food, as well as processing factories that are capable and recognised for export penetration.

Additionally, it is also to enhance development of expertise and technically skilled and qualified personnel in the field of food, science and technology.

This project is also expected to strengthen support services to SMEs, technical and technology transfer to the agrifood industry; and implement quality assurance programmes and food safety, research and development and technical services in a more comprehensive and systematic manner.

To be built on a piece of land at the Brunei Agro Technology Park (BATP) located in Kg Tungku, the centre will boast fully equipped facilities with laboratory buildings, sophisticated equipment and instrument that meet the criteria of the accreditation of international standard (ISO 17025).

The planned laboratories at the centre include: Food Processing, Food Chemical, Food Microbiology, Food Packaging, Food Engineering, Food Biotechnology, Sensory Evaluation and Post Harvest Laboratories.

With the implementation of the new system, it is hoped the FDC can be a competent reference centre that meets the criteria for the accreditation of ISO 17025, and also enhance the laboratories’ analysing capability to ensure the quality, safety and Halal certification of local food products.

This project is in line with the department’s mission to promote sustainable and competitive agribusiness, focusing on high quality and safety while ensuring food security for the people of Brunei.