ROMPIN: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has proposed an amalgamation of Felda settlements which would in turn produce higher yields and bring greater benefit to settlers.
He said settlers would contribute their land which when merged, must be managed by professional estate managers.
"That way, I am confident the amalgamated land can produce higher yields. The profits will then be divided accordingly among those who contributed the land," Dr Mahathir told reporters after attending the Felda Settlers' Day at Felda Selancar 3 here Sunday (July 7).
Dr Mahathir said part of the combined land could also be used for mixed crops.
"We want to avoid reliance on a single crop. Anything we plant must be mixed – not only just vegetables or melons.
"If there is diversity, we fulfil both local and foreign demand," he said, adding that the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry would advise which crops are best.
However, Dr Mahathir admitted that it would be difficult to change settlers' behaviour as many of them were now senior citizens and were used to doing things the old way.
"We used to give management of the land to settlers but they can't adjust their way of life.
"Today, farming vegetables and fruits give better returns than palm oil or rubber, but they are still sticking to the old crops.
"For a 2,000-acre piece of land, 200 acres can be used for other crops while the rest is planted with palm oil," he said.
During the event, Dr Mahathir also launched the Settler's Development Programme to help increase Felda settlers' income.
The comprehensive action plan would be based on smart farming and innovative downstream activities.
Also present were Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh and Felda director-general Datuk Dr Othman Omar.