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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gov’t to launch new inbred rice variety to boost local output

Wail Wardi Wasil

THE Department of Agriculture and Agrifood will launch a new type of inbred rice that is more drought-tolerant to boost domestic padi production.

An agronomist from the department, Khairunnisa Hj Omar Ali, said the new inbred rice line named Brunei Darussalam Rice 5 (BDR5) is developed from cross-breeding between Laila rice (a modern rice variety) and beras pusu (a popular traditional rice variety in Brunei).

In an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, she said the 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.

The BDR5 has the potential to produce three to five metric tonnes per hectare, she said.

The agronomist explained that traditional rice varieties are drought tolerant but produces a low yield with an average of one metric tonne per hectare.

She said traditional rice varieties can be planted in rain-fed areas that do not require irrigation and only relies on rain.

Modern varieties such as Laila rice cannot do this and can only be planted in areas with irrigation because they need a lot of water, she added.

“This 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,” she said.

She added that BDR5 is also shorter in height compared to traditional rice varieties, which reduces the risk of the plant dislodging from the soil, adding that is a common problem that is experienced by tall rice varieties.

“The initial cross-breeding was made around 2002 and 2003, and through years of selection process, the line is now being planted by 85 farmers in 70 hectares of padi fields to assess its sustainability for large scale planting.

“Prior to the trial, the department has also conducted sensory tests on BDR5 and found it to be acceptable, in terms of taste, by consumers in Brunei Darussalam,” said the agronomist.

Khairunnisa said the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood is targeting to launch BDR5 officially this year, depending on the success of the trial.

“We (the department) will continue to strengthen our research and development activities in order raise farmer’s productivity in a sustainable manner,” she added.

It was previously reported that Brunei fell short of meeting its rice self-sufficiency target of 60 per cent by 2015.

Domestic production of rice increased from 1,230 metric tonnes in 2013 to 1,380 metric tonnes in 2014.

Sumber - The Brunei Times

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