PUTRAJAYA, June 27 (Bernama) — The government will introduce an estate farming model to increase income of smallholders in rural areas, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Through the model, he said, land belonging to smallholders would be merged and managed professionally like an estate to increase agriculture produce.
“We will identify areas where the smallholdings can be merged and managed as an estate.
“We know that rubber estates are not so large. The small plots of land (belonging to smallholders), if merged, will be bigger than an estate, but the estates produce more rubber than the smallholders,” he said.
Dr Mahathir told this to reporters after launching the Rural Development Policy at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here today.
Also present were Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun and her deputy, R. Sivarasa.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir said agricultural produce from the estate would be distributed to smallholders depending on the size of their land.
He suggested that the estates involving the smallholders’ land be used to carry out mixed farming to reduce dependence on one crop, as was being practised in oil palm and rubber estates.
“If the prices of palm oil and rubber drop, we will have problems. If part of the land is used for other crops, it will help farmers at times when the price of the main crop drops,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said farming of crops like vegetables, fruits and flowers provides good income because of their high demand and can also be exported.
“There are 1.4 billion people in China and they like Musang King (durian). Planting durian has the potential to provide additional income for farmers,” he added.
Asked the difference between estate farming and the farming model implemented by the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), Dr Mahathir said there were “mistakes” in the implementation of the land scheme.
He said implementation of the FELDA land scheme should have involved merging land belonging to the settlers under one management, instead of each of the settlers managing their own plot.
“We proposed to have a huge estate (for FELDA) where in this huge estate, every settler gets to own 10 acres of land, and for 1,000 acres of land, there will be 100 settlers.
“But, I found it was not done, with every settler managing their own land. It is not efficient. That is why their income is low,” he added.
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