Sarawak is poised to become the second largest oil palm producer in the country.
As such, the state has also emerged as the second largest area under oil palm cultivation, behind Sabah.
According to Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansor, up till last year, the area cultivated for oil palm in the state has risen to 1.5 million hectares, including 201,265.86 hectares cultivated by smallholders.
“Palm oil is the main crop in Sarawak covering one third of its agricultural sector.
“The fast pace of oil palm cultivation has led to the development of other chain sectors within the oil palm industry and thus, providing job opportunities for the people,” he said.
In an effort to assist and encourage rural communities to be involved in the oil palm industry as a source of revenue, the government has provided assistance to smallholders channeled through the Malaysian Plantation Oil Board (MPOB).
He added that in the 2017 budget, the Government allocated RM30 million to assist smallholders to replant oil palm trees and to plant new ones.
“The New Planting Scheme Smallholders Palm and Palm Replanting Scheme have been implemented since 2010, aimed to increase the incomes of smallholders.
“Under this scheme, small farmers are eligible to receive assistance within the scope of assistance worth no more than RM9,000 per hectare in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said when launching the MPOB Belaga Research Station here today.
He noted that the scheme is provided in the form of plants, supply of quality seedlings, and fertilizers for the first year and if necessary chemicals for pest control.
Nasrun noted that MPOB also provides an integrated incentive scheme for livestock and palm. The scheme for palm plantation provide RM3,000 per hectare while for the livestock scheme, MPOB would supply cattle and sheep.
“I urge smallholders to communicate directly with MPOB through the nearest office for more details about government assistance and advisory services provided to the cultivation of oil palm smallholders,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government through the ministry has taken the initiative to establish a Sustainable Palm Growers Cooperative (KPSM) to encourage the participation of small farmers in the cooperative movement.
The establishment of the KPSM would unify smallholders for carrying out economic activity through good agricultural practices and sales of palm fruit in clusters directly to the factory.
As of December 2016, a total of 36 KPSM have been established throughout the country, including 13 in Sarawak.
Twenty KPSM across the country have started selling the fresh fruit bunches (FFB) directly to the factory.
KPSM, who has performed direct sales to factories, recorded an increase in sales at an estimated RM50 per tonne or 13 per cent compared to sales through palm fruit dealers.
He added under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the Federal Government has also allocated a fund of RM200,000 channeled through MPOB for the construction of FFB centres operated by KPSM.
On a different note, Nasrun also said that he would forward all issues faced by the constituents in the Hulu Rajang parliamentary constituency to the relevant ministries and department to be addressed in providing better facilities for the benefit of the constituents here.
Also present were Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong, Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chuk Paid Ugon, MPOB chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah and other dignitaries.
Source : Daryll Law @ Borneo Post Online