Tuesday September 21, 2004 - THE Felda group has identified integratedfarming, timber production and commercialised tree planting as three newgrowth areas into which it is venturing as part of its efforts to maximisethe use of its vast plantation assets in the country.
Chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor said these new areas of activity wouldhelp generate stronger profits for the giant plantation group and Feldasmallholders in the long-term.
We want to reduce dependency on the oil palm-related business bydiversifying into new strategic growth areas, he said.
Yusof said this to reporters after witnessing an agreement signing inKuala Lumpur yesterday between Koperasi Generasi Felda Bhd and Sejati OilPalm Feed Sdn Bhd to form a joint venture to produce oil palm frond fibrefeed.
Felda is the world's largest integrated oil palm-based group, producing2.53 million tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) last year.
Of the group's 820,000ha plantation land nationwide, subsidiary FeldaHoldings Bhd owns 340,00ha and smallholders in its settlements about480,000ha.
Yusof said that under the commercialised tree-planting scheme, Felda hopedto plant 400,000 trees of various species like Jati along the sides of5,000km of roads in the estates belonging to the group and its settlers bythe year-end.
Currently, more than half of the targeted number of trees have alreadybeen planted, he said, adding that the group expected to reap profits ofbetween RM3bil and RM4bil over the next 30 years from this project.
Yusof said Felda would also invest RM5mil in a 5,000ha timber-plantingproject in Bersia, Perak.
For this purpose, we will utilise the plantation's hilly areas which arenot economically viable for oil palm planting, he added.
As for integrated farming, Yusof said a 500-acre site in Chuping, Perlis,had been identified for the first pilot project.
We hope to develop Chuping into an environmentally clean farming area anda production centre of quality produce for export markets.
We plan to commercially grow alfalfa grass, which is fast attractingstrong demand from overseas as well as for cattle rearing in this area, hesaid.
Yusof said Felda was also studying the possibility of converting part ofthe area into a dairy farm to help reduce the country's dependence onimported dairy products, which had been steadily increasing every year.
This would also be one way to fully utilise the land owned by Felda, hesaid, adding that the group aimed to help its settlers earn a betterincome and upgrade their living standards.
He also expressed hope that the settlers, who currently made an averagemonthly income of RM1,200, would be able to earn more in five yearsthrough diversification into new growth areas.
Depending on the success of the pilot project, Felda hoped to expandintegrated farming nationwide in the foreseeable future, he added.