Breeding Farm Animals Brings Hope For Poor In ECER

4/8/2011 — Bernama
A new agropolitant project in Batu 8, under the Bebar sub district here, has been started to provide new hope for 100 poor families in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER).
The project is the second in Pekan, following one in Runchang that was officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in August 2009.
That first project involved 30 Orang Asli who were employed in the 11 Animal Production Units (APUs) to breed Dorper sheep. This integrated socio-economic programme implemented by the ECER Development Council (ECERDC) has a proven track record in helping the Orang Asli to escape extreme poverty. Each family now has a monthly income of between RM1,000 and RM2,000.
In 2010, 465 Dorper sheep from the Runchang facility were auctioned for RM265,550.
Unlike the Orang Asli in the Runchang scheme, who continue to live in their own homes, the 100 very poor families around Pekan who were selected from the e-kasih list have been relocated to Batu 8. Each of these families has been provided with a comfortable three bedroom home, complete with furniture.
Besides, the settlement has basic amenities such as a multipurpose hall, mosque, sundry shops, creche, playground, and a business centre. The settlement will be officially opened by Najib on April 9.
All participants in this agropolitan project are involved in breeding Dorper sheep, the main economic activity. They also breed chicken and ducks to supplement their incomes.
The ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Jebasingam Issace John, said the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) has been appointed as the implementing agency to select the participants, provide training and technical support, monitor the product quality, and help in marketing the products produced.
In all, 30 APUs with 3,000 sheep were started in February in Batu 8. The CEO added that a further 30 APUs would be ready by July to help increase the production of Dorper sheep, which has earned the moniker “Dorper Pekan” because of its high demand in the market.
“We expect the household income to increase from RM1,000 to RM2,000 within the first three years and to RM5,000 in the next eight years,” he added during a meet the media session here.
The CEO said, though the participants in this project were paid RM40 for an eight-hour work day, the secondary economic activities helped supplement their incomes. Additionally, each participant is eligible for a special incentive based on the profits derived from the collective undertaking.
For Hasan Iloi, 51, the opportunity to join this agropolitan project has transformed his family’s way of life. He said that earlier he had an uncertain income garnered by doing odd jobs, including rubber tapping in Kampung Pelak, Paloh Hinai, near here.
“Previously I used to earn around RM500 per month. It is quite difficult to live with that sum. But with an income exceeding RM1,000 now, and with our own home, life seems to be better now,” he added.
In fact, his wife, Norazimah Abu Talib, 43, has been planting ladies fingers, brinjal, sawi (brassica), and chili in the compound of the house using the seeds provided by ECERDC and Felda.
Apart from providing greenery, the vegetables are consumed, reducing daily expenses on food.
Meanwhile, Zahariah Mahusin, 42, thanked god for her good fortune that has eased the burden of bringing up her two children, aged eight and five. “A creche has been provided here, so I don’t have to worry when I go out to work,” the single mother said. This former sweeper, who is now a breeder, is determined to do her best to ensure that she succeeds in her new job.
Jebasingam also pointed out that apart from eradicating poverty and providing sustainable income for the participants, ECERDC has also introduced the “Sinar ECER” to enhance the academic and social skills of the children from participating families.
He said the programme combines three modules – tuition classes for those sitting for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), interactive day care that focuses on public speaking and instilling self confidence, and the kids’ camp.
“We want the future generations to be more successful, with higher education and a successful career,” he added.
Apart from Runchang and Batu 8, another location where these activities are set to be started is in Tanjung Batu in Pekan. This land has been earmarked for palm oil plantation development in February 2012.
About 200 participants will be selected for the palm oil programme, which will be integrated with swiftlet farming as the secondary activity.
Plans are also on to extend this agropolitan project to two other east coast states – Kelantan and Terengganu. In Kelantan, 10 pioneering settlers have ventured into palm oil farming in Gua Musang. Their secondary activities include aquaponics and planting of cocoa.
Another 350 participants are expected to be added to the programme in July.
In Terengganu, 100 houses and 52 pens for breeding Boer goats will be constructed under the Besut-Setiu agropolitan project. The first phase of the project involves 38 houses, 20 pens, and feedlots that are expected to be ready by this August.