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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

02/11/2004

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

NSTP

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

Risda gives ultimatum to smallholders
BOTA, Nov 1 - The Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority(Risda) may use the National Land Code to compulsorily acquire the morepoorly managed estates of smallholders if all else fails.Risda chairman Datuk Abd Raman Suliman hinted that the organisation mightresort to such drastic measures should these smallholders refuse to allowtheir estates to be managed by Risda Smallholders Plantations Sdn Bhd(RSPSB).

RSPSB, a subsidiary of Risda, has been entrusted with managing estateswholly owned by smallholders. It currently manages 52 projects nationwide,involving 1,715 smallholders.

"We do not want to use force, but we still have the National Land Code,"Raman said after handing out dividends to participants of three clusterschemes in Manjung district here today. He said smallholders who could notproperly manage their estates should understand the potential benefits ofallowing RSPSB to do so.

Raman said Risda had paid out dividends amounting to RM9.7 million, RM24.3million and RM43 million for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively.

"For 2004, we expect to pay about RM45 million in dividends," he said,adding that a total of RM39 million had been paid out to date. He saidRisda did not want these smallholders' estates to go to waste because ofpoor management and ageing owners. There are at present 325,000smallholders registered with Risda whose age is 56 or more.

On another matter, he said Risda would not be switching from its mainstayof rubber to palm oil, despite the present high price for palm oil, atabout RM1,600 per tonne. SMR 20 was currently priced at RM4.60 per kilo.

Raman said Risda would maintain the current 70:30 proportion of rubber topalm oil, or 1.15 million hectares of rubber estates and 250,000ha of oilpalm estates nationwide, while ensuring that a minimum of 20,000ha ofrubber estate was replanted annually.