KUCHING: Joint ventures involving native-owned land and plantation firms have started to yield a good monthly income for the Penans of Kampung Jambatan Suai in northern Sarawak.
They have become a model of how native customary rights (NCR) landowners could benefit when they team up with such firms to develop their land into oil palm estates, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.
Some 154 Penan landowners from 51 families, who had developed 1,871ha of oil palm plantations, were employed in various sectors of estate development, he said.
The project had also created 15 Penan entrepreneurs from contract works.
“Apart from their investment in the plantations, these Penans have invested RM789,000 in unit trust funds,” Jabu said during his winding-up speech at the State Assembly here yesterday.
Jabu, who is also the Rural and Land Development Minister, said more than 24,000ha of idle land had been planted with oil palm under the NCR land development joint ventures with plantation companies since 1995.
“More than RM336mil have been invested by the developers in these plantations.
“The spin-off effects of these projects have made entrepreneurs of project participants,” he said, adding that there were now 164 such entrepreneurs carrying out various contract works in NCR land development schemes worth about RM11.3mil a month.
He said land ownership disputes and overlapping claims were the main obstacles in developing the 1.5million hectares of rural NCR land in the state.
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