26 August, 2021 2:40 PM

Ensuring Food Security in Brunei Darussalam with Siti Jaafar & Nurul Hazirah

Two young and passionate girls refused to be frightened by COVID-19 and gathered the courage to speak up for the voiceless and drive relief for the underprivileged individuals. Throughout the 2nd ASEAN Youth Social Journalism Contest 2021, they have launched a campaign on ‘Ensuring Food Security in Brunei Darussalam during the pandemic’.

 What did you do throughout the programme?

The ASEAN Youth Social Journalism 2021 was a one-month social campaign programme consisting of a four-day workshop where 20 youth finalists from 10 ASEAN Member States received mentorship to improve their campaign ideas related to COVID-19 and its social and economic impacts to all groups of society.

The workshops, led by Horea Salajan, saw a series of journalism-related lessons, tips and tricks on writing, story-telling and capturing visual content in preparation one the month-long campaign.

We joined the competition with our campaign on ‘Ensuring Food Security in Brunei Darussalam during the pandemic’. Echoing the theme of this year’s ASEAN Youth Social Journalism Contest 2021 “#ASEANYouth and COVID-19 ─ Response, Recovery, and Resilience”, we managed to address the challenges faced by Bruneians, especially underprivileged individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic through social media campaigns.

What motivated you to join the programme and how did you apply for this programme?

We felt worried by the inadequate livestock imported to Brunei that caused the chaos of panic-buying during the pandemic. We wished the contest would be a little longer than 1 month. We feel like there are still so many we want to learn from the training programme to address our issue effectively. The 4-day workshop helped polish our campaign idea and enabled us to deliver our message clearly.

How would you describe your experience?

We are grateful for the workshops. They taught us to be more mindful when capturing stories of the community. We also learned to connect with the subject more, because behind each story is a real human experience that should be delivered with thought and care.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during the programme?

Throughout the one-month period, we had the opportunities to attend agricultural panels from various prestigious government agencies during the 4-week Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition (MYCE) in June, as well as a chance to interview local farmers to understand the challenges and opportunities they encountered to produce fresh produce in the country in the midst of a pandemic.

They emphasise how important it is to attempt new strategies to tackle challenges in farming to maximise growth and unique addition to the current farming strategies implemented in Brunei.

In addition to conversations with stakeholders, we also held collaborative events with a local NGO that focuses on food rescue and distributing food rations to underprivileged families. The campaign also allowed us to uncover disparities within the community.

We also initiated Brunei’s first non-government organisation that address concerns on food waste and food consumption in the country. The on-going pilot project #ZeroFoodWaste Movement in Brunei Darussalam led by Kilang ReRoot (Instagram: @kilangreroot.bn) aims to build a dynamic and innovative community in minimising food waste, upcycling food into new products, and adopting sustainable practices in our daily lives thus, striving towards a zero waste and healthy green lifestyle. The mission is to promote eco-friendly local products for sustainable living in Brunei Darussalam by becoming environmentally conscious of food production, packaging, consumption and waste recovery. This project hopes to support government agencies towards Brunei Vision 2035 and Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP).

Any tips or advice you'd like to share with other aspiring youth?

Volunteering in humanitarian activities is a great way to learn different stories and perspectives of communities that are not able to receive the same access as those who can.

ASEAN Youth Journalism Contest 2021 has been an experience for us to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to pursue our future endeavours in journalism and policy-making careers. We wish to inspire other fellow Bruneians and ASEAN youths to join the competition and express their critical thinking on issues they believe in.

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