BELURU: Smallholders have welcomed a proposed pilot independent palm oil mill project at Sungai Laong, where they have been invited to be among the shareholders.
Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Farmers Organisation) Datuk Sylvester Entri Muran said preliminary preparations are being concluded and an official application will be submitted to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Ministry of Land Development within a week.
The stakeholders of the proposed mill will be the Sarawak Farmers Organisation (30 per cent), National Farmers Organisation (20 per cent), DD Plantation (30 per cent), Land Consolidation and Development Authority (10 per cent) and the smallholders (10 per cent).
“This would be the first in Sarawak where smallholders can also purchase shares and be stakeholders in a palm oil mill,” Entri said during a project progress briefing to about 1,000 smallholders and representatives yesterday.
The projected cost of the mill would be between RM40 million and RM50 million, which would involve RM5 million worth of shares for smallholders.
A 106-acre site in Bakong has already been identified and surveyed by the Land and Survey Department. The mill is expected to be completed and commissioned within three years.
Entri said smallholders can enjoy multiple benefits when the mill is operational. Registered members of farmers organisations would enjoy dividends through SFO’s involvement apart from direct shares, while smallholders can also tap into technical advice, farm maintenance and production items such as weedicides and fertilisers without worrying about being fleeced by mills or collection centres while selling their fresh fruit bunches (FFB).
A special investment scheme would be set up to assist smallholders interested in purchasing shares, including loans where payment instalments could be made through deductions by the mill from FFB sales.
Meanwhile, MPOB Sarawak regional head Sulim Lumong said Beluru will be one of five independent mills planned by Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas for the state.