PAHANG BARAT TO BE THE FOCUS OF NEW ECONOMIC GROWTH IN PAHANG
Development to Focus on Large-Scale Agriculture Projects and Enhancing Domestic Tourism Attractions
KUANTAN, PAHANG, 11 DECEMBER 2020: The Federal Government through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), in partnership with the Pahang State Government, is committed to boost economic growth in Pahang Barat through agriculture and tourism activities, due to its close proximity to the Klang Valley.
Pahang Barat comprises the districts of Bentong, Cameron Highlands, Raub, and Lipis, with Jerantut and Bera included as Pahang Barat Plus. These districts collectively have vast tracts of land to attract investments in high-value agricultural activities such as livestock, durian, tongkat ali, as well as beautiful destinations including highland destinations which could be further developed as tourism attractions. These activities will be further supported by strategic infrastructure projects that enhance connectivity to Pahang Barat, such as the Central Spine Road (CSR), which will be pivotal in the overall economic development across Pahang and ECER.
ECERDC is confident that CSR has the potential to unlock new growth areas and stimulate the local economy with its expansive land connectivity, linking Pahang Barat to other economic hotspots in the country. For example, the district of Bentong, has great potential to be a distribution and logistics hub for the surrounding districts with enhanced connectivity via the CSR and Lebuhraya Pantai Timur (LPT).
Under the ECER Master Plan 2.0 (EMP2.0), ECERDC aims to attract RM31 billion in private investments to the state of Pahang by 2025. Pahang has continued to strengthen its position as an attractive investment destination in ECER by securing RM9.5 billion in domestic and foreign investments between year 2018-2020. Of the total, RM1.83 billion is focused on tourism, real estate and agriculture sector in Pahang Barat.
“ECERDC is actively working with Federal and State governments, as well as investors to enhance development progress in the East Coast. There is a need to invest in strategic infrastructure such as access roads, which is key to attracting quality investments into the agriculture and tourism sectors,” said Encik Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC at the ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Pahang meeting held today. The ICC meeting was chaired by Pahang Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Sri Wan Rosdy bin Wan Ismail.
After the ICC meeting, Dato’ Sri Wan Rosdy witnessed the exchange of loan documents between Federal Government, Pahang State Government & ECERDC for the construction of water distribution pipes from Kemaman, Terengganu to Gebeng, Pahang for the Gebeng Industrial Area, which will span approximately 29km.
“We would like to thank the Federal Government for its support in this project. This water distribution pipeline project is critical for existing industries. It will not only fulfil current demands for water for the industrial area but also help retain and serve as a catalyst to draw further investments and development in Pahang. This will in turn benefit the rakyat by improving their economic opportunities and livelihood,” said Encik Baidzawi.
The construction of this water distribution pipeline will start by June next year and is expected to be completed by December 2022.
Pahang is the “orchard of Malaysia”, being the largest fresh food producer in the country. In 2019, its agriculture sector contributed RM12.9 billion or 22% to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP). To further drive the development of agriculture, ECERDC is working actively with private investors to further develop the dairy industry in Pahang Barat and replicate the success in Muadzam Shah. The key is to continue investing in strategic infrastructure for livestock and production facilities, as well as ensuring greater productivity by developing idle agricultural land.
To tap into the growing demand for tongkat ali, ECERDC has identified Chegar Perah to be developed as the largest tongkat ali commercial farm in Malaysia and 13,000 tongkat ali trees will be planted by end of 2020. Eventually, there is a plan to build a research centre for tongkat ali with cooperation from Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI).
Pahang’s durian industry, which covers over 14,867 ha of land in the state, is the largest in the entire country. ECERDC is supporting the increasing demand for durian in recent years, especially for export by facilitating greater investments in downstream product development. This will enable farmers to reap higher-value returns for their produce.
Tourism Development in Pahang Barat
Another key economic driver that will spur socio-economic growth in Pahang Barat is the tourism sector. Pahang Barat is rich in nature and culture, offering amazing tourism experiences through a variety of unique products and attractions. Eco-tourism and heritage tourism hold high potential, and ECERDC is focused on creating sustainable attractions. The Lipis Heritage Tourism Development, which involve upgrading of heritage buildings in Kuala Lipis will promote heritage tourism in Pahang Barat and complement the Malayan Tiger Trail which is a key attraction for eco-adventure lovers. At the same time, the Malayan Tiger Trail tourism development in Jeram Besu have been identified to be developed by private investors.
Meanwhile, Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands and Frasers Hill in Pahang Barat still have high potential for tourism growth. Among the key tourism project identified are the Mossy Forest Eco Park Development in Cameron Highlands as well as integrated eco-resort development in Bentong which is investment driven.
The development of the CSR will also be a key enabler for domestic tourism. The shortened the journey between the East and West Coasts of Peninsular Malaysia provides a great incentive for day-trippers seeking a weekend getaway.
Human Capital Development
Human capital development (HCD) remains a key priority with special emphasis on Orang Asli community as many of them are among the poorest communities in Pahang Barat. Under EMP 2.0 (2018-2020), a total of 6,423 rakyat in Pahang Barat have benefited from ECERDC’s human capital development programmes, of which 11% of them are from the Orang Asli community.
For year 2021, empower ECER in Lipis, Bentong, Raub, Cameron Highlands and Jerantut districts will take on a new approach which involves anchor companies and cooperation from local training centres.
ECERDC continues to provide trainings and development programs for the Orang Asli community in Pahang, as 40% of them reside in Pahang Barat, with the majority living in Cameron Highlands and Lipis. For 2021, ECERDC will be collaborating with Yayasan Pahang and MyKasih to train Orang Asli in Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Koyan and Kampung Orang Asli Pak Senam in Lipis for chili fertigation work. To prevent future poor, Orang Asli schoolchildren will be provided with enrichment programmes and tuition classes to support their studies.
Meanwhile, ECERDC, as one of the agencies which has received approval to train and place 5,000 unemployed youths in ECER under the federal government’s PENJANA programme. Youths in Pahang can attend skills training courses to gain valuable market-ready skills, especially skills that will be relevant in a post-COVID-19 high-technology economy.
“The socio-economic transformation in Pahang post-COVID-19 will be accelerated over the next few years through these strategic high-impact development projects. Developing the socio-economy by creating new economic hotspots in Pahang Barat will result in better paying jobs and entrepreneurial activities. This is key to reducing the development gap between urban and rural communities, and ensure sustainable and balanced socio-economic growth for the people in Pahang Barat, in line with Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama 2030,” said Encik Baidzawi.