KUALA LUMPUR: A total of RM189.08mil in dividends will be paid out to some 90,000 oil palm and rubber smallholders nationwide despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The Prime Minister said the dividends, representing the third final annual instalment payment, would be distributed beginning Tuesday (April 27).
"It is my hope that the dividends would help ease the economic burden of Risda smallholders and Felcra participants in facing the challenges of the pandemic while also helping in their preparations for the coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations," he said when announcing the dividend payout at a ceremony at Risda headquarters here on Tuesday.
He said that Felcra Bhd declared dividends totalling RM107.05mil for 58,826 participants while the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority's (Risda) will be distributing dividends totalling RM82.03mil to 31,245 participants.
Under Felcra, a total of 16,080 participants will be paid dividends totalling RM38.17mil under its cluster new planting plan (RTBB) involving 19,306ha while 15,165 participants under its commercial replanting (TSK) programme involving 20,123ha will be paid a total of RM43.86mil in dividends.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin also announced that the government will continue with the Monsoon Season Aid programme this year to help 232,319 rubber smallholders affected by the rainy season.
He said that a total of RM69.9mil had been set aside for the programme where smallholders would be provided RM300 in December this year and RM300 in January 2022.
He noted that the government had set aside some RM129.8mil to help smallholders and rubber tappers during the rainy season last year.
This, he added, excluded the RM64mil provided under the Covid-19 special aid programme.
To further help rubber smallholders increase their income, Muhyiddin said that Risda would be expanding its replanting programme.
Under the programme, smallholders will qualify for aid if they utilise between 0.1ha and 5ha of idle land or land without rubber trees for replanting purposes.
"This will not only improve the economy of smallholders but also help the nation's rubber output by ensuring that rubber plantations reach a total size of 1.1 million hectares while also reducing idle land," he added.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin also announced that Risda would be distributing RM2.48mil as zakat contributions to more than 4,000 poor smallholders and selected religious institutions.