Felda needs to rejuvenate settlers to relive its glorious past, says chairman

A truck carrying oil palm fruits passes through Felda Sahabat plantation in Lahad Datu in Sabah February 20, 2013. — Reuters pic
A truck carrying oil palm fruits passes through Felda Sahabat plantation in Lahad Datu in Sabah February 20, 2013. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) needs to rejuvenate the settlers in order to return to its glorious past.

Its chairman, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the effort is in line with the demographics of the settlers, most of whom have reached the golden age and it was time for the tasks to be taken over by the second generation.

He said among the initiatives highlighted in the reform process was to appoint 15 per cent of new block leaders among the second generation of settlers aged below 50 years.

“Usually the leaders of these blocs are in the range of 60 years or 70 years and above, and they will not make way to young people and they are difficult to accept change, especially on new technologies related to agriculture,” he told Bernama .

Felda is embarking on an effort to create smart and integrated agriculture in order to increase the income of settlers in conformity with the goal of turning them into an exemplary and high-income community.

The smart and integrated agriculture programme will be conducted in collaboration with the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM).

“This programme is designed to suit the capabilities and abilities of the younger generation who are more exposed to the latest technology, especially in agriculture,” he said.

Besides that, he said Felda is aspiring to raise the income of settlers to more than RM5,000 per month by 2023 and producing up to 1,000 millionaire entrepreneurs, including 3,170 other entrepreneurs by 2025 through various programmes involving participation from the second, third and fourth generations of settlers.

“Felda is providing an allocation of RM1 billion for the Settlers Development Programme (PPP) which is expected to provide high income to the settlers,” he said.

The agency, which is now 64 years old, boasts 112, 638 settlers in 317 land schemes nationwide. It has also produced many great figures among the younger generation, thanks to a school education system provided in every land scheme.

He said the land schemes have produced many professionals like doctors, engineers and lecturers.

Among notable figures are Puncak Niaga Holdings founder Tan Sri Rozali Ismail from Felda Gedangsa, Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor, preacher Datuk Muhammad Kazim Elias (Felda Besout 3, Perak), celebrity Asmawi Ani (Mawi) (Felda Taib Andak, Kulai, Johor), and Farm Fresh chief operating officer Azmi Zainal (Felda Kelemah, Gemas, Negeri Sembilan).

“Not many know people about Felda’s success stories,” he said.

Felda needs to rejuvenate the settlers in line with the goal of returning the agency into a ‘gold mine’ it used to be.

Hence, Idris, who was appointed Felda chairman on May 1, together with the Felda Special Task Force, has conducted a study to improve the Felda White Paper that was tabled in Parliament in April. The task force has obtained feedback from all stakeholders to formulate a new business model for Felda.

“Three main things made up the new Felda model — a complete supply chain, settlers’ loans management and settlers’ mindset.

“The settlers need to change their mindset to ensure that Felda remains relevant and competitive and able to generate higher income for their socio-economic improvement in line with the country’s progress,” he said.

In an effort to change the mindset of settlers, Felda plans to hold a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) training.

The NLP is a psychological approach that involves analyzing strategies used by successful individuals and applying them to reach a personal goal. It relates thoughts, language, and patterns of behaviour learned through experience to specific outcomes.

Idris feels that Felda has great potential and is able to be a major player in the national food security as it has enough land and manpower compared to other government agencies.

“Other government agencies responsible for creating food security in the country can work with Felda to achieve the goal.

“Felda has (vast) land and we have settlers to do agricultural work. We have the ability, so it is easy for us to act as a food security provider,” said Idris, who was former higher education minister and former Terengganu menteri besar. — Bernama

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