BRUNEI and Thailand pledged to embark on more concrete projects in halal food production after inking a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Agricultural Cooperation yesterday.
Thai Prime Minister General (Rtd) Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters the two countries aim to become “the centre of the halal food industry” by leveraging Brunei’s halal expertise with Thailand’s food manufacturing capabilities.
The prime minister is in the Sultanate for talks with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Thailand previously proposed a joint venture to manufacture and export halal products under the Brunei Halal Brand.
Government spokesperson Captain (Rtd) Yongyuth Mayalarp said a working committee had been established to hammer out details for more concrete projects.
“We are prepared for further exchanges in terms of marketing, the food industry… Thailand is also developing halal products and Brunei is already well-established in this area so the two countries can share information and knowledge,” he told media.
Yongyuth added that the MoU will cover a range of areas, including rice production, fisheries, livestock, land development and water management.
“His Majesty has Vision 2035 and food security is an important aspect of that… Thailand is ready to cooperate with Brunei to ensure this.”
The MoU will facilitate Thai experts to work closely with local rice farmers to boost harvests of locally-grown grains such as Laila. Brunei currently sources 90 per cent of its rice supply from Thailand, importing 40,000 tonnes annually.
The Sultanate set a rice self-sufficiency target of 60 per cent by 2015, but domestic production reached just 1,380 metric tonnes in 2014, equivalent to five per cent of domestic needs.
Both His Majesty and Prime Minister Prayut were present to witness the signing of the agriculture pact at Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.
Signing on behalf of the Brunei government was Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, and signing on behalf of Thailand was Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Petipong Pungbun Na Ayudhya.
The Brunei Times