Brunei’s Agro-Tech Park under way

Brunei’s Agro-Tech Park under way

20th April, 2011

Work has finally begun on the much anticipated Brunei Agro-Technology Park (BATP), envisioned to be a massive 500-hectare “hi-tech” one-stop industrial community which is expected to boost the country’s agricultural output to an estimated $2.7 billion by 2023.

BIC Phase 1The multi-million dollar project’s first phase, 50 hectares of research, logistics and processing clusters situated in the southern tip of the site in Kg Tungku, is scheduled for completion in January 2013.

Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar yesterday officiated a groundbreaking ceremony for the project’s first-phase.

“Phase One includes a mix of business uses, government laboratories, the Food Development Centre, Halal Science Centre, food processing incubators and the first phase of the botanic gardens,” a statement from the ministry said.

The necessary infrastructure to support these facilities, which included the development of 25 lots of land, 4.7 kilometres of roads, 22 kilometres of high voltage cables, a main electrical intake station and six substations complete with street lighting, will be carried out by consultants Sepakat Setia Perunding (B) Sdn Bhd and contractor LCY Development Sdn Bhd under a $20 million, two-year contract.

The design of the phase one’s electrical system is anticipated to meet the requirements of up to six megawatts, needed to power the proposed facilities.

The project has already reached 3.8 per cent progress as of April 18, with much of the vegetation clearing underway, and surpassing 2.5 per cent progress expectations.

Deputy Permanent Secretary Hjh Normah Suria Hayati PJDSM DSU (Dr) Hj Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri told The Brunei Times that environmental impact has been taken into consideration in developing such a large site. Among these, she pointed out yesterday, was that the land has not been levelled and the site’s natural contours have been maintained to minimise impact to the surroundings.

The statement from the ministry also said that “environmental and maintenance services” would also be part of phase one.

“Phase one will also include the construction of a potential special-themed hotel and the establishment of botanic gardens,” it said.

Hjh Normah, who was formerly the director of the Agriculture and Agrifood Department, the main authority of the BATP, elaborated that the project’s first phase would also see part of the park’s botanical gardens take shape.

She said that tree species would be brought in from the forests and identified in the gardens, which would serve both research and recreational purposes.

The BATP, the construction of which was disclosed in 2007, are among the major efforts the government is implementing to diversify Brunei’s oil and gas export dependent economy.

The completion of the park, which could take “years” given the scale of the project, was hoped to lead to the creation of more than 9,000 jobs, including 2,000 “professional” posts.

“Total development costs are estimated at US$400 million ($498.9 million), and the amount is divided between the Brunei Government and the private investors,” the ministry statement said. “The BATP vision highlights building strong relations between the academic and business circles at both on national and international level, ensuring an investor friendly atmosphere to secure global investors representing top technology in order to promote modern agriculture innovation, healthy and safe agricultural products and introduce green tourism and export-oriented agriculture to Brunei.”

The conceptual master plan for the BATP was formulated in 2008 by a UK-based firm, SQW Limited, and included “design guidelines which will support the creation of a high quality, well-landscaped development with distinct zones for different uses”.

Source: Brunei Times