Article prepared and edited by Fairuzeta Hj Md Ja'afar and Natasha Keasberry
Four postgraduate students, Maylenie Ling Muhd Tony Ling (PhD candidate from Biology), Muhammad Zulfadliudin Bin Hj Jali (Masters student from Biology), Dk Radhiahtul Munirah Pg Sarabuddin and Nursyahidah Alawiyah Binti Idris (both Masters students from Chemistry), under the supervision of Dr. Fairuzeta binti Haji Md. Ja’afar (lecturer in Chemistry) from the Faculty of Science (FOS) were awarded a scholarship to participate in a food value chain (FVC) intensive course held at Kasetsart University in Thailand from 29th January until 11th February 2017.
The food value chain intensive course was organised by the ASEAN food industries human resources development association (AFH), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan and Japanese private companies and aims to create highly-skilled human resources in the area of agriculture within the ASEAN community.
The two-week intensive course consisted of seminars on in-depth knowledge on the impact of technology on the food value chain, covering topics from mechanisation of agriculture on the producer level, adding value to products by packaging and processing, product distribution logistics and marketing to consumers. The lectures provided first-hand knowledge and insight from well-known and established Japanese companies on the various stages and processes of bringing produce to the consumers from the farm to the table.
Within this intensive course, students also participated in workshops where they were asked to present material on what they have learned. In the first workshop, participants were tasked to pick a crop which is unique to their home country, current challenges facing its large scale production and how using the advanced technologies would solve the stated problems and benefit the country. The Bruneian team’s chosen crop was the rumbia tree, from which the local produce, ambulong, was made from. The students proposed mechanised technologies and GPS-assisted smart farming techniques which could improve ambulong production and its potential benefits to Brunei. This presentation was awarded first prize, competing against representatives from the Philippines, Cambodia, Lao, Thailand and Indonesia, and received very favourable feedback from the judge, Prof. Mikio Umeda, the Chief Executive Advisor of the Agricultural Operation Division from Yanmar Co. Ltd.
The Bruneian team presentation on how robots could help the farming of ambulong, a local produce made from sago trees (Metroxylon sagu roxb.).
FOS students were awarded first prize for their presentation on how robots could help the farming of ambulong, a local produce made from sago trees (Metroxylon sagu roxb.). Prize was awarded by Prof. Mikio Umeda, the Chief Executive Advisor of the Agricultural Operation Division from Yanmar Co. Ltd.
The intensive course also aimed to introduce Japanese culture to participants. A few lectures focused on the Japanese corporate culture, challenges Japan are facing due to its aging population and even understanding Japanese foods. The Bruneian team also participated in a sushi decorating workshop.
On the final day of the course, each team from each country was asked to give a 20 minute presentation highlighting all the things they have learned from the course and what knowledge can they bring to their home country. The Bruneian team’s presentation entitled, “Food-Value-Chain (FVC), where does Brunei fit in?”, gave a brief introduction on Brunei, the challenges facing the agricultural industry, how the insight from the Japanese companies experiences could improve agriculture and possible action plans to implement in Brunei. This presentation was awarded first prize, with the judges commending the team’s presentation skills and attributed their success to their ability to present relevant data and information in an easy-to-follow manner.
The participants gained invaluable insights from established Japanese companies and gained possible collaborative partners which could directly or indirectly help their respective research areas or employment prospects.
The final presentation entitled, “Food-Value-Chain (FVC), where does Brunei fit in?”, was awarded first prize against competitors from Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.