MIRI: Data collected on the ground shows that many rural Sarawak families can't even earn RM1,000 every month.
The low prices of agricultural commodities like palm oil fruits coupled with the effects of recent Covid-19 pandemic have caused tremendous hardships in rural Sarawak.
Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (SCRIPS) secretary-general Michael Jok said on Friday (July 17) that a quick survey carried out recently showed that many families were struggling.
"The data collection was done among our ground contacts in the longhouses.
"The news that the Federal Government has revised the national household poverty line (from a monthly income of RM980 to RM2,208) is interesting and relevant to our quick survey.
"The feedback we collected shows many rural families are earning way below the revised monthly household income poverty line of RM2,208 per month.
"The average family in the longhouses are struggling to earn RM1,000 per month.
"Only those who have big farms can manage to earn above RM2,208 per month in agriculture produce.
"Small-scale oil palm planters I have spoken to said they could hardly survive nowadays due to the very unpredictable prices of fresh oil palm fruits," he said.
Jok, a native from Belaga district in central Sarawak, has legal training in Sarawak native land laws.
He has travelled extensively through the state, especially the rural regions of northern and central Sarawak.
He said the Federal Government must send special teams into rural Sarawak to get the real picture.
"The revision of the household poverty line must come with solid and practical plans to overcome the poverty situation.
"The poverty situation in rural Sarawak is serious," he said.
Jok, however, noted that both the federal and state authorities had tried to help those badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Food and monetary aid had been handed out, he said.
However, there must be effective long-term solutions to deal with the poverty situation in Sarawak, he said.