‘No’ to blanket order

Dr Richard Mani

KUCHING: Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (Doppa) disagrees with the government’s move to stop expansion of oil palm plantations in the country as announced recently by Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.

“We don’t agree with minister Teresa Kok’s statement because we have 1.6 million hectares of NCR land that must be developed systematically in tandem with Sarawak government’s objective to achieve the minimum household income of RM4,000 per month among Dayak rural populace,” Doppa president Dr Richard Mani said.

Richard stressed that NCR land is the only asset that they have and without the development of their NCR land, their economy will be affected and cannot be improved.

“In this respect, we at Doppa agree with the statement by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah to develop NCR land for the economic betterment of the Dayak community,” he added.

Richard stressed that Kok must be aware that the Sarawak government has assured that there will be no more opening of mass plantation on state land but it allows the natives to develop their NCR land.

“It has been announced there will be no more large scale oil palm plantation on state land, however for NCR land there must be systematic planning of land development for the rural populace,” he said.

Richard highlighted that all Doppa members are familiar and have been trained on the importance of following the strict rules and guidelines required by the international community.

“Dayak oil palm planters will abide by the Malaysia Standard Palm Oil (MSPO) to be implemented by 2020 – we will follow the standards and international rules,” he stressed.

He believes that Dayak smallholders do not contribute to environmental problem because they are only planting in small areas – plots of between three and 30 acres with other crops.

“They plant oil palm with other crops like fruit trees, paddy, and they rear livestock – it doesn’t harm the environment because normally their farms are diversified,” he said.

He pointed out that Malaysia Palm oil Board (MPOB) is offering subsidies to help rural dwellers venture into oil palm smallholding while Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) is engaged in community joint venture projects.

Doppa, he added, adopts land rental system based on the number of trees planted on the land to work with the rural community who refused for their land to be developed on profit sharing basis.

“The most popular rate among the Dayak oil palm planters is 50 sen per tree per month, easier to understand for people who have limited knowledge on accounting. For every 1,000 trees planted on their land, these kampong people will receive RM500 per month,” he explained.

He also said Doppa now has about 1,500 members and they have been doing a lot of programmes like road shows for MSPO and ‘Aram Bersawit’.

Richard welcomed Kok to come down to Sarawak to see for herself the situation in the state.

“Her statement is a blanket statement – tidak boleh tanam sawit (cannot plant oil palm), mana boleh orang tidak tanam sawit (people cannot stop planting oil palm). Harga lada pun sekarang turun (pepper price is going down now), Sawit (oil palm) still stable. Furthermore when it starts fruiting, you can start selling it right away,” he emphasised.

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