SOUTH KELANTAN AGROPOLITAN PROVES GOVERNMENT’S SUCCESS IN EMPOWERING B40 HOUSEHOLDS Strategic Programme Eradicates Poverty and Uplifts Livelihood of 600 Families

GUA MUSANG, KELANTAN, 9 MARCH 2018: The implementation of the South Kelantan Agropolitan project in Rantau Manis, Gua Musang, a poverty eradication initiative undertaken by the Federal Government through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) since 2009, has benefitted nearly 600 participants and their families to-date, where they are now enjoying higher income and better standard of living.
The success of the South Kelantan Agropolitan project is a testament to the Federal Government’s achievement in eradicating hardcore poverty, especially among the local communities in the rural areas of Kelantan, over the last 10 years following the inception of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER).
The South Kelantan Agropolitan is part of the Agropolitan initiative introduced by the Federal Government under the first ECER Master Plan, together with Pekan Agropolitan in Pahang and Besut-Setiu Agropolitan in Terengganu. Under the Agropolitan project, the hardcore poor are resettled into new homes built by ECERDC and employed in agribusiness activities to earn a sustainable income.
From its pilot project involving the first batch of 10 participants and their families who were resettled to new homes in Rantau Manis provided by ECERDC back in 2009, South Kelantan Agropolitan now involves nearly 600 participants or some 2,600 household members. The main economic activity at this site is oil palm plantation, with cocoa farming as the secondary economic activity. A total of 2,070 hectares of land for oil palm estates and 160 hectares for cocoa cultivation has been allocated by ECERDC for this project.
Through their involvement in these economic activities, the participants are now able to enjoy a stable average monthly income of RM1,500 compared with about RM350 per month before joining the project. They are also living in new, fully-furnished homes built by ECERDC, complete with supporting facilities and amenities such as a multipurpose hall, surau, kindergarten and futsal court.
“Over the past decade, the Federal Government through ECERDC has implemented various high-impact projects and programmes which have generated new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the Rakyat. The success achieved by the South Kelantan Agropolitan’s participants today clearly demonstrates the impact of the Federal Government’s inclusive and holistic approach towards uplifting the income, economic and education levels of the bottom 40 per cent household income group (B40) communities, especially in the rural areas,” said Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John at the South Kelantan Agropolitan project site here today.
Earlier, the Member of Parliament for Gua Musang, YBM Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh bin Tengku Mohd Hamzah, officiated the South Kelantan Agropolitan project. Also present at the event was the Minister of International Trade and Industry, YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Bin Mohamed.
“Today’s event is also meaningful for us at ECERDC as it is part of our 10th anniversary celebration this year. On that note, I wish to extend our appreciation to all stakeholders for being actively involved in the socio-economic transformation of ECER throughout the decade, particularly in delivering life-changing opportunities for the Rakyat through projects such as  Agropolitan,” added Datuk Seri Issace.
As a symbolic gesture to commemorate ECERDC’s 10th anniversary this year, a cake cutting ceremony was also held at the event.
ECERDC has partnered up with the South Kelantan Development Authority (KESEDAR) which acts as the main implementation agency for the South Kelantan Agropolitan project. The agency has helped upskill the local participants via regular trainings in order to equip them with the technical knowledge on oil palm and cocoa crops, as well as personal development programmes. To further increase the income levels of participants, participants are also involved in cocoa farming as their secondary economic activity under the guidance of  Lembaga Koko Malaysia.
In addition to South Kelantan Agropolitan, the Agropolitan project is also being implemented in four other locations in ECER namely in Runchang, Batu 8 (Lepar) and Tanjung Batu in Pekan, Pahang; as well as in Besut-Setiu, Terengganu. In total, the Agropolitan project has transformed the lives of over 1,100 locals in ECER to-date.
To complement the physical infrastructure and existing job opportunities, ECERDC has also implemented its inclusive human capital development programmes for the benefit of South Kelantan Agropolitan participants and their family members. These programmes are also offered to the locals in Gua Musang, including the Orang Asli communities.
For instance, aspiring entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate in ECERDC’s empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme, as well as entrepreneur ECER programme as a means to diversify and increase their families’ income level while contributing to the jobs and wealth creation in their local communities. Meanwhile, school-going children are also given the opportunity to attend tuition and motivational classes through empower ECER Academic Training programme to improve their academic performance.
In recognition of the Rakyat’s dedication towards improving their livelihood, four top-performing empower ECER and entrepreneur ECER participants in Gua Musang, who have been selected among 120 entrepreneur ECER and 200 empower ECER participants in Gua Musang, received their awards from Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh.
In addition, 16 participants of empower ECER Academic Training programme who obtained 5As and above during the recent Primary School Assessment Report (PPSR),  Form Three Assessment (PT3) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exams also received recognition for their hard work and achievement.  Five Orang Asli students also received the Special Award for Orang Asli Students, while eight schools in Gua Musang received the appointment letters to be part of the empower ECER Academic Training programme.
During the event, incentives worth RM300 were handed over to each Agropolitan South Kelantan participants as a token of appreciation for their dedication towards as the project, as well as the Appointment Certificates to the Housing Area Security and Development Committee (Jawatankuasa Keselamatan dan Kemajuan Taman), consisting of 35 members who will be actively running community programmes in collaboration with ECERDC. In addition, seven local entrepreneurs in South Kelantan Agropolitan received equipment assistance worth RM56,830 under the TERAJU@ECER initiative to help expand their business.
Another key focus at the event is the recognition of micro-entrepreneurs who have seized the growing opportunities in ECER, including two of the home dealers for “Farm Fresh” dairy products produced in Muadzam Shah Cattle and Research Innovation Centre, who received their certificates from Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh.
“The inclusive and holistic programmes by ECERDC such as the South Kelantan Agropolitan programme demonstrate our commitment to bring socio-economic transformation to all levels of the society. The real and tangible changes that we are witnessing, especially among the communities in the rural areas, will certainly motivate us to do more for the Rakyat as we embark on the next phase of ECER’s growth,” concluded Datuk Seri Issace.
Throughout Kelantan, ECERDC’s human capital development programmes have benefited more than 28,000 Rakyat to-date. The B40 income group comprises about 93% of the total participants in the state, largely through the Agropolitan and empower ECER projects.