According to the recent reports in Brunei Times, it has been indicated that Brunei’s Department of Agriculture and Agrifood has developed a new inbred rice variety called “Brunei Darussalam Rice 5 (BDR5)” which is drought-tolerant and high-yielding. The new variety has been developed by cross-breeding between laila rice (a modern rice variety) and beras pusu (a popular traditional rice variety in Brunei). It will be launched soon, as narrated by an agronomist from the Agriculture Department. Further, the agronomist told that “BDR5 can be a replacement for traditional rice varieties because it has inherited the drought tolerant characteristics of traditional rice but has the higher yield of modern rice varieties. It has also been noted that the BDR5 can produce a yield of 3 to 5 tons per hectare while the yield from the traditional varieties is only 1 ton per hectare.
Further, in this regard, it has been noted that the new variety can be planted in areas which are not rain fed and also do not have proper irrigation facilities. BDR5 faces less risk of plant dislodging from the soil because it is shorter in height as compared to traditional varieties. These characteristics will create a positive impact on the domestic rice production because half of the rice production areas in Brunei still do not have access to proper irrigation infrastructure, it has been revealed. It has also been stated that Brunei produces only 2% of the nation’s domestic annual rice consumption of around 40,000 tons while Brunei’s rice production has remained at around 1,000 tons since 2002.
Moreover, the Brunei imports 95% of its rice requirement from Thailand. Brunei imported about 23,357 tons of rice from Thailand in the first eleven months of 2015, according to data from the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA). It imported a total of 42,207 tons of rice in 2014. As per data indicated in the USDA estimates, it has revealed that Brunei is to produce 1,000 tons of milled rice and has to import around 40,000 tons in 2015 to meet a consumption demand of around 41,000 tons.