KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 – The government has allocated RM153 million this year to help smallholders improve crop production and increase household income. Of the amount, RM55 million is meant for the oil palm sector, RM40 million (rubber), RM6 million (cocoa), RM9 million (pepper), RM13 million (sago), and RM30 million for the construction of farm roads.
Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon said despite having to recalibrate its budget, the government continued to give priority to projects and programmes for the wellbeing of the people. She said the government was committed in developing the commodity sector in a sustainable manner and propel the oil palm sector, especially smallholdings, in view of its contribution to the economic growth.
The government also builds farm roads to cater to the needs of smallholders in rural areas to ensure that the country’s commodity industry remains competitive, she said in a statement issued by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). Noriah announced the allocation when launching the Commodity Smallholders Transformation Programme in Suri, Debak, Betong, Sarawak today.
The event, organised the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry, is one of the ministry’s outreach programmes aimed at raising awareness of the community, particularly smallholders and entrepreneurs, on the commodity sector and its business potentials.
It was held in collaboration with the MPOB, the Malaysian Rubber Board and other agencies under the ministry. The farms roads are built under the Smallholding Road Programme which entails upgrading and building new roads to link villages to smallholdings or unsupervised farms to facilitate entry of agricultural input and transportation of farm produce.
In 2015, a total of 37 farm roads were built in Sarawak, involving a distance of 69km at the cost of over RM15 million. She said the facilities provided helps spur economic activities and generate income and improve the livelihood of smallholders. Noriah said the ministry would continue to implement programmes to improve the standard of living and socio-economic development of oil palm smallholders in Sarawak.
Hence, she said the MPOB provided advisory services and channelled assistance such as the Oil Palm Smallholders New Planting (TBSPK) scheme. Under the scheme, eligible smallholders in Sarawak receives financial aid amounting to RM9,000 per hectare for land preparation and supply of seedlings, fertilisers and chemicals to control pests.