Kuala Lumpur, 26 July 2001 (Business Times) - THE Forest ResearchInstitute Malaysia (Frim) is holding talks with a government landdevelopment agency to promote agro-forestry among smallholders to helpthem improve their earnings.
Frim director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Mohd Ali said the institute hasmade a suggestion to the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) thattimber species with commercial value be planted in between rubber and oilpalm trees.
"Based on a study by Felda, about 10 per cent of land in each developmentscheme is left idle," he told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Felda has more than 100 schemes nationwide, with an average of 1,200ha perscheme.
Abdul Razak said merawan (hopea), jelutong, or red mer-anti are examplesof species with high commercial value that can be planted in between treesin the schemes.
They are used widely in the manufacture of consumer products and buildingmaterials.
"Smallholders can plant up to 20 trees per hectare, that will total up to2,400 trees per scheme, or 240,000 trees nationwide.
"Based on a possible income of RM1,000 per tree, the concept can be agreat help to smallholders in the long run, he said.
Abdul Razak said if the agro-forestry plan is implemented, Felda will mostlikely bear the planting cost and Frim will provide technical expertise.
There are now some 3 million hectares planted with rubber trees, and 1.5million hectares with oil palm involving 420,193 smallholders.