KUALA TERENGGANU, 29 SEPTEMBER 2013: The Sultan of Terengganu, Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Al-Wathiqu Billah Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah, today officially launched the East Coast Economic Region (ECER)’s Besut-Setiu Agropolitan project in Panchur Bederu, Mukim Chalok in the District of Setiu, Terengganu.

Held in conjunction with ECER’s 5th anniversary celebration this year, the event was also attended by Terengganu Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad bin Said and Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

Agropolitan is a poverty eradication project implemented by ECERDC in ECER which involves the participation of poor families in agriculture-related activities that would provide them with higher and stable income.

Some 100 families are taking part in the Besut-Setiu Agropolitan, which is one of the three Agropolitan projects undertaken by ECERDC in the Region. The Besut-Setiu Agropolitan participants had started moving into their new homes built by ECERDC in June 2013 and they are now engaged in Dorper sheep farming as their main economic activity.

For this purpose, ECERDC has built 52 animal production units (APU) for sheep rearing and allocated 104 hectares for the cultivation of napier grass as fodder for 4,680 sheep in the Besut-Setiu Agropolitan.

In his speech, YAB Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad bin Said commended the Federal Government’s effort via ECERDC in bringing transformation into the lives of Besut-Setiu Agropolitan participants and their families, while empowering them at the same time.

“Prior to this, most of them are working in unstable, low-income jobs and facing hardship in life, earning about RM350 a month on average. Today, the participants are earning an average income of about RM1,100 monthly, and this figure is expected to increase to RM5,000 per month by 2020,” said Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad.

Besides giving them jobs, ECERDC has also built new houses for the participants which come equipped with new furniture. The participants are also enjoying other public amenities built by ECERDC at their resettlement site, such as multi-purpose hall, surau and kindergarten.

The Federal Government, through ECERDC, has spent RM60 million for the implementation of Besut-Setiu Agropolitan, he noted.

“ECERDC is confident that the Agropolitan project is able to improve the living standards and socio-economic status of the rakyat in Terengganu, particularly in the Besut-Setiu area, in line with the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) which aims to create a high income society in the country,” said ECERDC CEO, Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

ECERDC first introduced the Agropolitan project in 2009, starting with Agropolitan Pekan in Pahang, and later followed by the South Kelantan Agropolitan in Gua Musang, Kelantan. To date, a combined total of 840 families are involved in the Agropolitan projects.

The Agropolitan project adopts a holistic approach by catering for all in the family. 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 Sinar ECER and empower ECER academic training programmes that consists of remedial classes and motivational sessions to improve their academic performance.

To ensure the smooth implementation of Besut-Setiu Agropolitan, ECERDC has appointed FELDA as the implementation agency for the project. Its officers will train and guide participants with personal money management skills, motivational courses and religious classes to help participants sustain the momentum of their newfound prosperity.

In addition to Besut-Setiu Agropolitan, ECERDC is also implementing several other projects in Terengganu which include the Kuala Terengganu City Centre, Kertih Biopolymer Park, the construction of Bukit Kuang Bridge and Setiu Wetlands sustainable development.