KANOWIT: Oil palm plantation projects can become the catalyst for rural development, according to Ngemah assemblyman Alexander Vincent who, however, lamented there are always certain quarters who tend to oppose such projects.
“Rural areas like Ngemah need development, for example through oil palm plantation, particularly to improve the socio-economy of its people.
“With the availability of roads, it is more convenient now for the people to cultivate oil palm or other plants that can generate incomes,” he said when officiating at the first oil palm planting ceremony to mark the start of Ta Ann Pelita Ngemah Block C project in Sungai Dap/Poi area near here yesterday.
The project is a joint venture between Ta Ann Holdings, Land Custody Development Authority and local native customary rights (NCR) landowners.
Block C covers 10,210 hectares of NCR land and it involves a total of 1,456 families from 71 longhouses in Poi, Dap and Ngemah areas.
Alexander pointed out that the government has introduced better development concept for such projects involving NCR land whereby the landowners are given upfront payments.
In the past, he said, landowners only received dividends and bonus towards the year end.
Until Sept 30 this year, a total of RM984,436 in upfront payments had been paid to 365 participants of the project.
Alexander also said that the project will provide employment opportunities to the locals and he hoped the people will support such projects.
Earlier, Block C Area Development Committee (ADC) Poi chairman Gerunsin Kunding requested priority to be given to the locals in term of employment opportunities in the plantation sector.
He said there were university graduates among the children of the participants who possessed qualification to work in the plantation.
Also present at the function were Ta Ann Holdings Sdn Bhd executive chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi, managing director Datuk Wong Kuo Hea and Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development officer Sirai Daha.