KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has challenged the next generation of Felda settlers to open “new frontiers”.
He said that unlike their parents, however, the next leap forward did not require resettlement in some distant land and the clearing of jungles.
“I call on the sons and daughters of Felda settlers to open their minds and take the next logical step forward, which is to build and develop Small and Medium Industries (SMIs) within their settlements.
“Their responsibility is to add value to the hard work put in by their parents, to enrich Felda settlements,’’ he said at the opening of a seminar for Felda settlers at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.
The Government implemented the Felda land scheme 51 years ago. It involved the resettlement of people from the rural areas and the opening up of jungles to be planted with oil palm and rubber trees.
There are now an estimated 130,000 families living under the Felda scheme, which covers nearly 800,000ha of land.
Abdullah said that young Felda settlers could expand on cottage industries entrenched in the land schemes.
“The industries have the potential to grow into SMIs with proper planning and marketing,’’ he said, adding that resources such as raw materials and manpower were easily available in the land schemes.
Abdullah said the Government was willing to assist Felda settlers start the SMIs.
“I have told Datuk Effendi Norwawi (Agriculture Minister) to identify and help Felda settlers to mass produce food and goods,’’ he said.
He said the Government had allocated RM7.9bil for agriculture under the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
Earlier in his speech, Abdullah said a new generation of Felda settlers had emerged since the land scheme was started in 1952.
He said it was time for Felda settlers to set new goals as the land scheme had achieved most of its aims.
“The rest of the country has developed and we cannot let Felda schemes be left out of the mainstream of development,’’ he said.