Local firm's Brunei fish farm to help boost food security

Carolyn Khew Straits Times 14 Feb 17;

In a boost for Singapore's food security, local company Apollo Aquaculture Group will be setting up a high-tech farm in Brunei in a joint venture.

Mr Eric Ng, 44, group chief executive officer of Apollo Aquaculture Group, said the vertical fish-farming system will be remotely controlled and monitored from Apollo Aqua- culture's farm in Singapore.

With underwater sensors to measure parameters like temperature and salinity, the need for manpower is reduced and workers can respond to emergencies quickly, he said.

Noting that the yearly output of fish is eventually expected to reach 5,000 tonnes per year, Mr Ng said the farm will produce fish for consumption, such as groupers, as well as ornamental fish.

The joint venture between Apollo Aquaculture and a Bruneian partner - KR Apollo - was announced yesterday at a groundbreaking ceremony at the new farm in Brunei.

Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and Bruneian Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Ali Apong attended the event.

In his speech, Dr Koh said Singapore is always looking to strengthen its food security by importing from a variety of sources.

He said: "Now, we have a vibrant farming sector, but as you can all understand, there are very obvious space constraints in Singapore.

"Brunei, on the other hand, is looking to diversify its economy, and agriculture is a potentially lucrative sector. One can see the potential for collaboration and sharing of know-how."

Mr Ng's decision to venture into Brunei was partly because his farm is one of 62 in Lim Chu Kang that will see their leases expire in 2019.

"Land is very scarce here. Brunei is different - they have abundant land and resources," said Mr Ng.

"By setting up a farm in Brunei, it also ensures that we have a backup in case anything happens to our farm here," he added.

Professor Paul Teng, adjunct senior fellow in food security in the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said any additional imported food source would increase Singapore's resilience.

However, he added that the cost effectiveness of importing seafood from Brunei remains to be seen.

"It would probably still cost less to import seafood from Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia," he added.

Last year, Singapore imported fresh and frozen fish from about 80 countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Denmark and Senegal. There were no Brunei imports.

Past imports of fish from Brunei were minimal, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

Local fish farmers produced 4,900 tonnes of fish last year, accounting for about 10 per cent of fresh (live and chilled) fish eaten here.

Mr Ng hopes the joint venture will be a positive example for local farms to follow.

He said: "The traditional method for fish farming has never changed. It's very tough work. But with technology, the possibilites are endless."

Singapore delegation visits agriculture, aquaculture sites
James Kon and Fizah HAB Borneo Bulletin 15 Feb 17;

FOLLOWING fruitful visits to numerous agriculture and aquaculture sites in Brunei Darussalam for the past two days, Singapore’s Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Development Dr Koh Poh Koon described that Brunei and Singapore has a ‘good natural fit’ to cooperate and come together to work on beneficial ways towards Brunei’s effort in diversifying its economy and at the same time increase Singapore’s food resilience.

Singapore’s Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Development who capped off his visits at the Searay Aquatech Sdn Bhd’s nursery located in the Serasa area in an interview said, “Brunei has a larger land mass and sea space so this is where Brunei has very rich natural resources and very favourable conditions for agriculture and aquaculture. Singapore with its smaller land mass and sea space would find a natural fit to look into investment opportunities in Brunei which also fits in with Brunei’s diversification of economy leveraging in with the lucrative agriculture sector.”

Building on the strong foundation of the bilateral ties of both countries, he said “during my two-day visit in Brunei, it is very clear that from the people-to-people level and government-to-government level, we have very close relations.”

He cited that some of the industry players from Singapore who are in Brunei for the first time on the trip can feel a sense of warmth and hospitality as well as officials from Brunei were very helpful in providing information and answering any inquiries giving a sense of confidence in looking at investment opportunities in Brunei.

“We hope that this kind of networking and opportunity seeking will continue beyond this trip to further build on the strengths that we have over the last few decades,” the minister added.

On the response from the Singaporean delegates, he said, “They are very excited and see that there are opportunities available in Brunei which were not available in Singapore. I felt that many good conversations have taken place and I hope that they will make more visits to Brunei to explore new partnerships as well as understand the environment here.”

The Singaporean Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Development Dr Koh Poh Koon’s yesterday first visited one of the aquaculture farms situated at the Tanjung Pelumpong Aquaculture site in Muara as part of studying possible investment opportunities between Brunei Darussalam and Singapore.

Accompanying the minister and the Singaporean delegates were the Singapore High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Lim Hong Huai and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Dr Haji Abdul Manaf bin Haji Metussin.

The owner of the farm, Awang Haji Azahari bin Haji Chuchu explained the production capabilities of the farm before guiding the visitors to the floating fish farm. The local aquaculture farm, ODE Aquaculture and Agriculture, produced hybrid groupers, mouse grouper, seabass amongst others and produced up to 265 mt/year for both local and foreign market.

The visit to the Tanjung Pelumpong Aquaculture site was followed by a visit to Searay Aquatech Sdn Bhd’s fish nursery. On hand to welcome the Singapore delegation was Jeannie Loh, Managing Director of Searay Aquatech.

Searay Aquatech has 78 units of marine cages at Tanjung Pelumpong Marine Fish Cage site and the species culture include Seabass, Grouper, Pompano and Trevally. Currently the fishes are exported to China and Hong Kong.

Last year, there were about 12 tonnes of Seabass and one tonne of Groupers exported overseas.

MOS Dr Koh Poh Koon leads delegation to Brunei to explore Agri-Investment Opportunities
MND Press Release 12 Feb 17;

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Minister of State for National Development, and Trade and Industry is visiting Brunei from 13 to 14 February 2017, at the invitation of Bruneian Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism The Honourable Dato Haji Ali Bin Apong. Dr Koh will also call on Minister II of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Honourable Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng to discuss investment opportunities between the two countries.

While in Brunei, Dr Koh will officiate the ground-breaking ceremony of KR Apollo Sdn Bhd. Jointly developed by Apollo Aquaculture (a Singaporean company) and its Bruneian joint venture partner, KR Apollo Sdn Bhd will embark on food fish hatchery and ornamental fish (guppy) production. There are plans to eventually export the fish to Singapore and other countries. Dr Koh will also visit several other Bruneian agriculture farms.

Dr Koh said, “I hope this trip encourages our local farms to adopt a global perspective and look beyond our shores to leverage international opportunities. Like our local SMEs, we want to help more of our farms establish themselves as globally competitive companies.”

Dr Koh is accompanied by officials from the Ministry of National Development, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority as well as representatives from the farming industry.

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