PEKAN, 5 AUGUST 2013: All 213 Pekan Agropolitan participants in Tanjung Batu, together with their family members and rakyat from surrounding villages, were treated to a buka puasa session with Kebawah Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Tengku Mahkota Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Al-Haj ibni Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah at Taman Agropolitan Tanjung Batu, Nenasi here today.

The event, which was attended by some 1,500 Pekan locals in total, was organised by the Pahang State Government in collaboration with the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).

KDYTM Tengku Mahkota Pahang also presented each of the Agropolitan participants with RM200 incentive money from ECERDC and Ramadhan gifts, courtesy of Majlis Agama Islam Pahang, in preparation for Hari Raya celebration.

Also present at this special royal treat were Kebawah Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Tengku Puan Pahang, Tunku Hajjah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah binti Almarhum Almutawakkil ‘Alallah Sultan Iskandar, Menteri Besar of Pahang, YAB Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan bin Haji Yaakob, State Assemblyman for Bebar, YB Mohamad Fakhruddin Mohd. Ariff, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John, the Pahang State Executive Committee and members of the royal court.

The Agropolitan project is a poverty eradication initiative introduced by ECERDC which involves the participation of the rural poor in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) in agriculture-related projects. Participants, who previously earned RM350 a month, are now earning an average income of RM1,100 a month. In addition, they are provided with new houses, complete with community facilities, when they moved into the Agropolitan project site with their families.

ECERDC is currently implementing the Agropolitan projects in the states of Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu respectively. In Pahang, ECERDC has launched the Pekan Agropolitan in three sites, namely, Batu 8 in Lepar, Runchang and Tanjung Batu. ECERDC has appointed the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) as the implementing agency for the Pekan Agropolitan project.

The Pekan Agropolitan project in Tanjung Batu involves the participation of 213 families, who were selected among the hardcore poor in the Pekan district. The families moved into their new homes built by ECERDC in October 2012 and are currently working at a 1,352-hectare oil palm plantation.

The Agropolitan project in Tanjung Batu is the third and latest project site for the ECER’s Pekan Agropolitan initiative following its implementation in Runchang and Batu 8 since 2009 and 2011 respectively.

ECERDC adopts a holistic approach to poverty eradication in its Agropolitan project, addressing both the economic and social needs of participants.

Motivation sessions were held for the participants and they are trained on money management skills. Family members are also encouraged to earn an additional income through Agropolitan secondary activities while children of the Agropolitan are provided with special academic training and guidance to improve their grades at school.

In 2012, a total of 495 students and 100 adults participated in ECERDC-led empower ECER Mahkota Kuala Pahang human capital development programme, consisting of children of Pekan Agropolitan participants, underachievers from the schools surrounding Universiti Malaysia Kuala Pahang and adults who comprised of unemployed children of Pekan Agropolitan participants and locals in Kuala Pahang.

For this year, from a total of 1,871 students enrolled in the Academic Training programme of empower ECER Mahkota Kuala Pahang, 371 children are from the Pekan Agropolitan project, of which 53 are studying in SK Tanjung Batu, 62 are from SK Lepar, 59 from SK Runchang and 197 from SMK Lepar.

To provide convenience for the Pekan Agropolitan children, the Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak through Yayasan 1Malaysia, also donated two schoolbuses to facilitate their transportation mode to school, as well as enable them to organize educational trips and other relevant recreational activities.

Ultimately, ECERDC strives to integrate the Agropolitan families into mainstream life so that they are not left out of the new wealth created by the economic transformation of ECER.