Royal call to increase agriculture production
By Amie PDH Ishak & Fadhil Yunus

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday underscored the need to increase the nation's agriculture production, in particular rice, and ensure that the country will reach self-sufficiency, especially at a time when the world is in the grip of a food crisis.

His Majesty delivered a titah during the celebration of Israk Mikraj yesterday at the International Convention Centre in Berakas.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Azim, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Malik and His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Mateen.

Earlier in the titah, His Majesty quoted an example from the history of Israk Mikraj when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) met members of a farming tribe harvesting their crop. Every time this tribe harvested their crop the paddy would grow again.

"This event is a depiction of those who fulfil their duties in the name of Allah, and in return they will be repaid with endless rewards," said His Majesty.

Touching on this, the monarch said that it reminds us of the food crisis the world is facing today.

"Food can be a source of good as well as bad; if the food is sufficient it will be good for the people, and if it's insufficient or lacking it will bring about devastation and despair.

"This whole story," reminded the monarch, "is beautifully and precisely depicted in the history of Israk Mikraj.

"In this instance, we are reminded of the food crisis that is gripping the world today and we should focus on giving our attention towards it.

"Therefore we must have the capability, preparation and strong will to execute our efforts as we are expected to by our religion," said the ruler.

Furthermore, taking lessons from al-Quran, His Majesty highlighted events that were portrayed during the era of Prophet Yusuf 'Alaihissalam, when the government and the people were urged to immediately start growing more crops on a big scale to overcome the food crisis that was foretold would happen due to a long period of drought that were to fall upon the country.

"The world today is not in the prediction stage as the crisis has already unfolded," His Majesty said.

There are 854 million people in the world who are suffering from famine according to statistics quoted by His Majesty and the number is increasing by four million each year.

"Therefore, I insist in stressing that our country needs to take the necessary steps to increase our agricultural products, in particular rice, to ensure that we are successful in providing for ourselves.

"The point is, the development of our agriculture is crucial towards decreasing our dependency on large quantities of imported goods. We need to quickly overcome the slow rate of our development," His Majesty added.

His Majesty hoped that the Israk Mikraj gathering would empower us with the will to progress, in the fields that receive global attention, which is the field of agriculture. - Borneo Bulletin (31st July 2008)