His Majesty officiates padi planting in Wasan
By Lyna Mohamad, Azaraimy HH & James Kon

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam touched the hearts of many when he consented to personally plant the "Laila" padi during the monarch's visit to one of the padi plantations after the launching of the "Penanaman Padi Ke Arah Mencapai Sara Diri Pengeluaran Beras Di Negara Brunei Darussalam" (Towards Self-Sufficiency in Rice Production in Negara Brunei Darussalam) and the "Pengistiharan Nama Baru Bagi Beras Tempatan" (official announcement of the new name for the local rice) by His Majesty yesterday.

Accompanying His Majesty were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Abdul 'Azim and HRH Prince Abdul 'Malik, as well as other members of the royal family.

Upon arrival at the Wasan padi plantation field, His Majesty and the royal entourage were greeted by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, Deputy Minister, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdillah Hj Abd Wahab and Permanent Secretary, Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar.

Also greeting the royalty were Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary Dyg Hjh Asmah Hj Saman, Acting Director of Agriculture Dyg Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Hj Awg Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, department directors, senior officers and officers as well as personnel of MIPR.

His Majesty listened to a welcoming speech delivered by Minister of MIPR following which His Majesty launched the padi plantation and declared the new name for one of the varieties of local rice to be planted on a large scale in the country.

The launch marked the start of activities implemented towards short and medium term plan programmes that are conducted at the Kg Wasan padi plantation, Brunei Muara District.

The variety of local rice that will be planted on a large scale was previously known as BDR1 and following His Majesty's announcement will be known as "Laila".

His Majesty took part a pesembah from the minister prior to visiting the seeds preparation plot and later took part in the planting of padi, a joint research between Brunei Darussalam and Republic of Philippines using the drum seeder machine.

His Majesty then visited the Local Farmer Site (Plot 1) for another padi planting activity using a padi transplanter.

His Majesty also viewed the Food Security, Preparation of Field Infrastructure for Wasan and Bebuloh area exhibition as well as the activities of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice). His Majesty signed a memorial plaque to commemorate His Majesty's presence at the launch.

The itinerary yesterday continued with His Majesty's visit to padi fields to witness the various planting methods at KOSEKA Padi Field (Plot 2) using a padi transplanter, Mukim Pengkalan Batu Padi Field (Plot 3) using the traditional way of planting padi and the Kg Bebuloh Padi Field (Plot 4) using the mist blower.

From here, His Majesty and the royal entourage headed to Ampangan Imang (Imang Dam) where His Majesty launched the water system from the dam, which provides the water channel to the Wasan and Kemajuan Pertanian Bertumpu padi field, while plan for water works to Bebuloh padi field are currently being done and is expected to be completed by 2012.

The caring monarch then proceeded to the Research Area, Department of Agriculture, Wasan to witness the PhilRice research activities where His Majesty was met by the Secretary of Agriculture of the Republic of Philippines, Arthur C Yap who is currently in the country.

The research area is a joint cooperation between the Department of Agriculture Brunei and PhilRice where the green house built on this site contains 220 breeding lines that will be monitored and analysed by these parties, which will help in the production of padi and rice that are sufficient and of high quality in the country.

His Majesty's official visit concluded at the Wasan Vocational School where His Majesty witnessed the outdoor activities of the school and later consented to a santap with other invited guests at the school's hall. - Borneo Bulletin (28th Apr 2009)