Project in Pekan set for launch next Tuesday

7/31/2009 — The Star
Initiatives listed under the East Coast Economic Region (Ecer) masterplan are set to move ahead with the Pekan Agropolitan Project in Kampung Runchang set for launch near here next Tuesday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, who is also Pekan MP, is expected to launch the much-anticipated project.
Involving 1,450 families, the project will employ a comprehensive regional development approach by resettling 700 hardcore poor families to new areas in Tanjung Batu, Bebar and Kubang Panjang and engaging 750 orang asli families in an in-situ approach.
Ecer Development Council chief executive officer Datuk Jebasingam Issace John said the project was expected to create 5,000 jobs and elevate the monthly household income of the hardcore poor from RM360 to RM1,500.
Describing the project as a milestone under the Ecer blueprint, John said it would promote the development of growth centres in rural areas and accelerate economic growth through agriculture and farm-based activities.
“At the same time, the project will balance development growth between rural and urban areas while providing sustainable income to poor families in line with the Government’s aim to eradicate hardcore poverty by 2010,” he said.
He said a unique feature of the project was the establishment of primary, tertiary and support activities for participating families.
Another key characteristic was that income would not solely be earned by the respective heads of the households but by each member of the family through gains from secondary and support activities, he added.
In the project, oil palm plantation and sheep rearing have been identified as primary activities.
Secondary activities are downstream initiatives related to oil palm and sheep rearing as well as bird’s nest cultivation, sewing, aquaculture, aquaponic and mushroom growing.
John said the setting up of collection, processing and packaging centres and collection and marketing centres, including training centres, auction centres, meat-processing centres and abattoirs would ensure participants were well-facilitated to earn more from related support activities.
“The project is an economic model that will enhance the economic value chain through the deployment of an integrated approach.
“This means that participants will be able to tap into non-agriculture based activities to supplement their incomes.
“In addition, human capital development via training and education will prepare participants with the attitude, knowledge and skills to adopt new technologies and good agriculture practices,” he said, adding that the initiative would develop entrepreneurship for participants to benefit from business opportunities.
It is one of four agropolitan projects in Ecer which includes the development of south Kelantan, north Kelantan and Besut-Setiu in Terengganu.
The 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) is committed to achieving growth and reduce the poverty rate to 2.8% and eradicate hardcore poverty by 2010.
It has also set the target to narrow income disparities and improve equity in the rural population in east coast states.