Agropolitan Initiative Reaping Dividends

8/10/2010 — The Star
The country’s pioneer batch of 435 Dorper sheep were all sold to livestock buyers for a total of RM265,550 in the first ever auction held here.
The sheep dubbed ‘Pekan Dorper’ were raised at the Pekan agropolitan project for the hardcore poor as one of the initiatives of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) masterplan, in addition to the oil palm initiative.
The auction was conducted by the state Veterinary Services Department, the ECER Development Council (ECERDC) and Felda.
The sheep rearing activities was officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Aug last year.
Since then, the Pekan agropolitan project successfully doubled its Dorper sheep population to 2,000 heads from an initial 1,000 heads.
ECERDC chief executive officer Datuk Jebasingam Issace John said within one year, the Pekan agropolitan project had already shown remarkable progress in enhancing the life of its participants.
“In fact, the success of this pilot sheep-rearing project will become the precursor for the total development of 250 animal production units (APUs) in Pekan agropolitan with 25,000 Dorper sheep in total.
“Once the figure is achieved, Pekan agropolitan will become the largest sheep population centralised in a single location in Asia,” he said at the auction site here on Sunday.
The Pekan agropolitan was an integrated socio-economic project initiated by the ECERDC with the aim to eradicate poverty among the hardcore poor.
Through the promoted economic activities, participating families were expected to generate income of between RM1,000 and RM2,000 monthly.
Issace said the Pekan agropolitan adopted the resettlement ‘in situ’ for the 1,100 participating hardcore families including orang asli.
“We have appointed Felda to coordinate and manage the project to ensure its success.
“For a start, 30 orang asli participants have been engaged in Dorper sheep rearing activities in Pekan since July last year,” he said.
Issace said in addition to the 11 existing APUs for Dorper sheep built for Pekan agropolitan, 60 other APUs were currently under construction.
He said 30 of the APUs were expected to be completed by Nov this year and the remaining in 2011.
“Another 24 APUs would be built starting this month and expected to be ready by July next year,” he said.
On a separate matter, Issace said the development of oil palm plantation in Pekan agropolitan involving 1,100ha of land had begun with land clearing activities and planting works were expected to commence next year.
He said the construction of 100 new houses for Pekan agropolitan participants was near completion and expected to be handed over in Sept. “Construction works for another 213 houses equipped with public amenities are expected to commence end of this month for participants working in oil palm plantations,” he said.
Adding that these homes were expected to be completed by Aug next year.