GUA MUSANG, 10 JUNE 2014: Senior officials from both Federal and Kelantan state governments today visited the South Kelantan Agropolitan project in the district of Gua Musang, an East Coast Economic Region (ECER) poverty eradication initiative undertaken by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).
The delegation was led by Kelantan State Secretary, Dato’ Haji Mohd Faudzi bin Haji Che Mat and Kelantan Federal Development DepartmentDirector, Dato’ Makhtar bin Mustafa. Also present were Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) Director Tuan Haji Serpudin bin Mohamad and General Manager of South Kelantan Development Authority (KESEDAR), Tuan Haji Mohd Arshad bin Ismail. They were hosted by the Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.
The South Kelantan Agropolitan is part of the Agropolitan poverty eradication programme implemented by the Federal Government through ECERDC. The Agropolitan project is in line with the Government’s Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that aim to create a high-income nation across all levels of the society. It involves the resettlement of hardcore poor participants in a designated location, where they are trained to become gainfully employed in ECERDC agricultural projects.
The South Kelantan Agropolitan reflects an integrated approach towards poverty eradication effort in Kelantan. To address this issue, ECERDC partnered up with KESEDAR, the state development authority of South Kelantan, for the implementation of the Agropolitan project in Gua Musang. The first batch of 10 Agropolitan participants and their families were resettled here in May 2009, as part of a pilot project prior to the implementation of several Agropolitan projects across ECER.
In his statement, ECERDC CEO Dato’ Jebasinggam Issace John said, there are currently 325 participants in South Kelantan Agropolitan Phase 1, comprising 256 participants from Gua Musang, 54 from Kuala Kerai and five from Jeli.
The Agropolitan’s ultimate goal is to accommodate 625 families by 2015, with participants engaged in oil palm and cocoa cultivation. ECERDC has allocated 1,500 hectares for oil palm estates and 160 hectares for cocoa cultivation for this purpose.
“To date, the South Kelantan Agropolitan project has created a significant impact in transforming the lives of its participants, as well as their families. Previously, they were earning less RM350 a month, but now, they are having a stable job and steady income, earning an average of RM1,100 per month by working at oil palm plantation as their primary source of income. In addition, they are also earning secondary income from the cultivation of cash crops, such as cocoa,” Dato’ Issace said.
“We wish to express our appreciation to KESEDAR, whom we appointed as the implementation agency for the South Kelantan Agropolitan, for training the participants the technical aspects on oil palm and cocoa crops, as well as conducting personal development programmes. Both ECERDC and KESEDAR are committed to ensuring that Agropolitan participants have the appropriate skill sets to stand on their own feet and seize the opportunities to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
Phase 2 of the South Kelantan Agropolitan will involve the participation of another 300 participants.
The Agropolitan project adopts a holistic approach by catering for all in the family. They are all resettled in newly built homes, complete with supporting facilities and amenities such as a multipurpose hall, surau, kindergarten and futsal court. While participants engage in agriculture-related activities to raise household income, their family members can help supplement the family income by engaging in secondary economic activities. Children of the participants also have the opportunity to take part in programmes organised by ECERDC such as empower ECER Academic Training Programme that consists of remedial classes and motivational sessions to improve their academic performance.
Besides South Kelantan Agropolitan, ECERDC is also undertaking the Pekan Agropolitan project in Pahang and Besut-Setiu Agropolitan in Terengganu. To date, a combined total of 840 families are involved in the Agropolitan projects across ECER. Under this programme, hardcore poor families are given the opportunity to transform their lives through involvement in agriculture-related economic activities such as Dorper sheep rearing and oil palm plantation.