PRIME MINISTER HANDS OVER NEW HOUSE KEYS TO 102 ORANG ASLI PARTICIPANTS OF PEKAN AGROPOLITAN RUNCHANGOrang Asli in Runchang, Pekan see higher income and improved quality of life

PEKAN, PAHANG, DECEMBER 6, 2014: Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak paid a working visit to Runchang here today to officially hand over the house keys to 102 Orang Asli participants of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER)’s Pekan Agropolitan poverty eradication project.
The keys to the houses, which were built by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), were handed over at the official launch ceremony of the new housing complex for Agropolitan Pekan participants in Runchang. Today’s event was also attended by Pahang Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan Haji Yaakob and the Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.
Launched in 2009, the Agropolitan project in Runchang, Pekan was the first Agropolitan site established in ECER. The Agropolitan project is one of the Government initiatives undertaken by ECERDC which aims to reduce poverty in ECER and narrow the regional development gap between the rural and urban areas. It is based in the concept of inclusiveness to ensure that all Malaysians, including the Orang Asli, have the opportunity to improve their livelihood and socio-economic status.
Using agriculture-based activities as its main economic platform, Agropolitan aims to increase the number of job opportunities in the rural areas, as well as improve the income and quality of life of the rural communities. This is in line with the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme (GTP), which aims to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020.
Starting with the participation of 30 local Orang Asli, the Pekan Agropolitan project in Runchang now involves the participation of 102 Orang Asli, who are now involved in Dorper sheep rearing as their primary economic activity. They are now earning about RM950 per month by working five hours a day, up 30% from their previous income of RM650 per month.
The Agropolitan project is in line with the Government’s Transformation Programme and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) which aims to create a high-income nation across all levels of the society, said YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC.
The Pekan Agropolitan project in Runchang, which involves the participation of 102 Orang Asli participants, is an excellent example of the Government’s inclusive approach in ensuring that the rakyat from all across the society are able to enjoy the country’s economic prosperity, said Dato’ Issace.
In addition to higher income, there is also a significant improvement in the quality of lives of the Orang Asli Agropolitan participants and their families. The Orang Asli participants of Pekan Agropolitan project in Runchang have shifted into their new, furnished 3-bedroom homes, which also come complete with public facilities such as community hall, playground and futsal court.
Their children are also given academic tuition and self-motivation classes under the empower ECER Academic Training Programme implemented by ECERDC. In Pekan alone, some 112 Orang Asli children have benefitted from empower ECER Academic Training Programme.
Two Orang Asli students from Pekan managed to achieve 5A’s in the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) 2014 whose results were announced recently, while another 2 Orang Asli pupils scored 3A’s, and another 3 obtained 2A’s.
At today’s event, the Prime Minister also presented the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices (MyGap) Certificate to the project leader of Runchang’s Dorper Sheep Farming project. Issued by the Ministry Of Agriculture & Agro-Based Industry, MyGAP is a comprehensive certification scheme for agricultural, aquaculture and livestock sector, and is proof of compliance to commercial and export-quality food safety standards.  There are currently 3,500 heads of sheep raised in 35 animal production units built by ECERDC in Runchang. The Agropolitan Pekan is expected to become the largest Dorper sheep hub in South East Asia by 2020, with an estimated number of 25,000 Dorper sheep by then.
Besides Runchang, the Agropolitan Pekan project is also implemented in Batu 8 in Mukim Lepar and Tanjung Batu, with a combined participation of 415 local participants. In addition to Agropolitan Pekan in Pahang, ECERDC also undertakes the South Kelantan Agropolitan in Gua Musang, Kelantan and Besut-Setiu Agropolitan Terengganu. There are currently 840 families involved in the Agropolitan projects across the three states in ECER.
In addition to Agropolitan Pekan in Runchang, other ECERDC programmes that have benefitted the Orang Asli community in ECER include empower ECER Academic Training Programme, which have helped transformed the academic achievement of 1,425 Orang Asli students in ECER, of which 1,024 are from Pahang.
Under empower ECER Skills & Entrepreneurship Programme, 122 new Orang Asli entrepreneurs have been created in the region, of whom 109 are from Pahang. They are now earning between RM1,500 and RM2,000 monthly after joining the programme.
Another six Orang Asli entrepreneurs, including two from Pahang are now involved in entrepreneur ECER programme in collaboration with Agrobank, with involvement in retail business, commercial agriculture, food manufacturing, automotive repairs and school bus enterprise respectively.