|Agropolitan Projects To Boost Development In Remote Areas
By Mohd Shukri Ishak
KUALA LIPIS, July 15 (Bernama) -- The Agropolitan Project, under the Mega Rural Development Programme, is a comprehensive programme to eradicate hardcore poverty and speed up the development of backward and remote areas.
The project that shares many similarities with Felda's land schemes is another approach taken to reduce rural poverty to 2.9 percent by 2010 and to help at least 10,000 heads of hardcore poor family escape from hardcore poverty.
According to the Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, the programme focuses on economic development, physical amenities and human resource development.
"The areas given priority are rural areas located far away but with high economic potential in agriculture, tourism and industries that can generate development for the area," he said recently when met after his visit to the Gahai Agropolitan project near here.
But for Mohd Shafie, what can really make the difference is the collective determination and earnestness of the participants in ensuring the project's success.
"The success of this agropolitan project does not solely depend on the government. It needs the commitment and the strong will or the participants who should portray a positive attitude and diligence to succeed," he added.
Those participating should get involved from the start until the harvest.
TO BE INTRODUCED ALL OVER THE COUNTRY
The Gahai Agropolitan Project is the second to be implemented after the first one in Pulau Banggi in Sabah launched on August 11, 2007. The Gahai Agropolitan was implemented on August 5, 2008.
According to Mohd Shafie, the project would be further expanded with the target being 10,000 participants by the end of next year.
Several areas in Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak have been identified for implementation before 2010 with Batang Lupar and Batang Sadong in Sarawak, Gana in Sabah and Chemomoi in Pahang among those identified.
AN ALLOCATION OF ALMOST RM400 MILLION
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry Datuk Abd Jabar Che Nai when met by Bernama's writer noted that the ministry has allocated between RM300 million and RM400 million to ensure the success of the agropolitan programme.
"The allocation could be higher depending on the situation, but for the projects identified for implementation before 2010 we have allocated between RM300 million and RM400 million," he said.
"As for the Gahai Agropolitan project covering an area of 222.58 hectares, rubber plantation account for 202.34 hectares and pineapple 14.16 hectares with 50 settlers provided with houses to stay while another 30 were given shares only," he said.
Each participant given a plantation share of 2.259 hectares and commercial farm share of 0.28 hectares.
The rubber trees will be ready to be tapped in four years time from November 2011. In the meantime, the participants can help to fertlize and upkeep the rubber plantation and earn between RM400-RM700 monthly from the pineapple farm.
"Once they start tapping rubber, they can earn between RM1,000 and RM2,500 per month and they can further supplement their income from the pineapple farm which will bring them an additional sum between RM400 and RM700 a month," he said.
A NEW HOPE FOR PROGRAMME PARTICIPANTS
Meanwhile, several participants exuded great enthusiasm and commitment in ensuring the success of the programme.
As for them, the project is the light at the end of the tunnel that will guarantee their children's future.
The chairman of the Gahai Agropolitan settlement Yusini Amir Mat Amin, 40, noted that through the programme they would not only be enjoying a steady income but also a roof over their head, a share of land and a more comfortable life unlike previously.
"As for us, houses complete with electricity and piped water is a great blessing and for the settlers life here is far better. We are thankful to the government for looking into the plight of people like us," he said.
Another of the participant, Mohd Nor Nordin, 47, a former army man is highly optimistic of the promise of a better life in the remote areas.
"It is true that the settlement is yet to turn lively, its yet to transform like the "Felda Bilut", but we are thankful of the basic amenities provided and hopefully all the participants will do their best to ensure a better future," he said.
Another of the participant, Sabri Sudin, 36, noted that the agropolitan programme is a highly valuable programe for him and his family.
"If our lives here were previously difficult, it is now changing for the better and God Willing when the rubber trees mature and are to be tapped, life will be much better," he said.