02 November 2001 (Business Times)
Felda schemes in Johor should undergo a restructuring of its economicactivities and family institution to keep up with the modern times.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the first generation of Feldasettlers have been successful but now there was a need to maximise landuse to suit market needs.
However, he said the aging first generation settlers and the phenomena ofurban migration of their children have made it difficult for many settlersto continue with the agriculture activity.
Ghani said the younger generation in Felda are also not interested to workon land inherited from their parents.
"If the trend continues, there will come a time when Felda land schemes dono longer produce oil palm and this will affect palm oil production andreduce our competitive edge.
"So in anticipation of these problems, there is a need for a radicalchange to re-invent Felda in both the economic and social aspects," hetold reporters after opening the 'National Anti-Social Ills' seminar herelast night.
Present were State Family Development, Women's Affairs and HealthCommittee chairman Halimah Sadique, State Secretary Datuk Ayob Mion, StateExecutive councillors, State Assemblymen and 200 seminar participants.
The three-day seminar beginning yesterday was organised by the JohorFamily Development Foundation.
A total of 16 research papers on social problems produced by six localuniversities over a period of three years and at a cost of RM1.2 millionwill be presented during the seminar.
The universities are Universiti Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia,Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, UniversitiIslam Antarabangsa and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Ghani said there was a need to diversify land use in Felda land schemesand stop relying too much on oil palm cultivation as the crop may nolonger promises good returns.
He said the factor of aging first generation settlers and urban migrationhas adversely reduced family cohesiveness and given rise to a list ofproblems such as divorce, drug abuse, among others.
"I hope the seminar will provide practical solutions and formulatesuitable programmes to the specific target groups in Felda land schemes.
Meanwhile, a Universiti Malaya research team said Felda possess a richland bank which has yet to be fully explored.
The only way for Felda land schemes to rekindle its past glory was to usehi-tech method in the development of agriculture industry.
"Information technology such as e-commerce should also be incorporatedinto the re-structuring of Felda land schemes.
"If this idea is implemented, this means the Malay community will be amore powerful force as food will become an important topic in the nearfuture," said the seminar paper.
The paper titled `Social Problems in Felda Land Schemes' was prepared byDr Rokiah Talib, Prof Dr Suradi Salim and Associate Prof Dr HussainMohamed.