25/05/2009 (Bernama), Kuching - Felcra will develop another 11,000 hectares of land in Sarawak for oil palm cultivation by 2010, its chairman Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said here today.
With the completion of the project, he said, Felcra Berhad would have developed 55,000ha for oil palm, the biggest for Felcra as this made up 36 per cent of the total area in the country developed by the agency for oil palm, compared to 52,000ha in Pahang currently.
"We see that Sarawak still has a lot of land banks with the potential of being developed into oil palm plantations compared to the peninsula, and this will also help the government develop its (Sarawak) rural areas," he said after attending a briefing at Felcra's Sarawak office.
Tajuddin said 44,000ha of land in Sarawak had so far been developed by Felcra, out of which 22,000ha had started producing.
He said the three new areas to have agropolitan projects would be Batang Sadong, Batang Lupar and Pulau Beruit, involving 6,534ha and 3,700 participants altogether.
Besides that, he added, Felcra would also set up two people's estates, involving 4,571ha, this year.
"Felcra's current focus is on economic, physical and human capital development as part of efforts to overcome the effects of the global economic slowdown."
Felcra now has some 94,000 project participants, including 5,544 in Sarawak, with accumulated dividends given out amounting to RM3.5 billion of which RM72 million went to the participants in Sarawak.
Tajuddin said Felcra was also working at attracting more participants and encouraging their family members to work in the oil palm estates developed by Felcra so as to reduce the country's dependence on foreign labour for work, such as harvesting the oil palm fruits.
He said Felcra was now hiring 20,000 people for plantation work, including 8,000 foreigners whom it aimed to reduce to 4,000.