KUALA SELANGOR – The federal government feels the pulse of the people when it fulfils their aspirations by continuing to ensure their provisions and aid reach the needy groups, including the smallholders.
That is one of the testimonies expressed by Norsham Sarijon 55, an oil palm operator in Bukit Indah here.
She said the government through the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) had taken several initiatives to assist the smallholders in the district in addressing the rising cost of living.
“I have been working with my siblings on our 1.2-hectare oil palm farm that was handed down to us by our parents all this while. The income is unpredictable, with an average net income earned of between RM1,000 and RM1,500 depending on the season.
“But on our own initiative, we have been registered with Risda since 2012 and we have been able to continue operating this farm. Besides replanting aid, I have also benefited from the additional economic activities (AET) programme introduced by Risda to generate side income,” she told Bernama.
The uncertainty of palm prices and price slump was an opportunity for her to utilise the capital assistance from Risda to increase her family income to become a successful entrepreneur selling food products such as curry puffs and doughnuts.
“Through AET, I receive financial assistance of RM20,000 from Risda early last year, including in the form of equipment and machinery purchases,? she said, adding that she could now earn extra incomes of RM2,000 to RM 2,500 monthly selling her frozen food from home.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Kamala Adnan, 53, and her husband Sharum Kamsani, 69, who also utilised the facilities provided by the government as a springboard to get out of the clutches of poverty.
The couple from Ijok, said that the government had helped many smallholders by ensuring that particularly those living on the fringe of urban areas were not excluded from the opportunity to improve their standard of living.
They have also benefited from Risda’s assistance through the AET programme apart from cultivating the crop on their own piece of land.
Risda, through the AET programme, encourages smallholders, including those involved in oil palm and rubber planting, to engage in entrepreneurship
The programme’s goal is to see the smallholders earn an income of at least RM 4,000 per month by 2020 by focusing on the four key areas of service, food, manufacturing and agriculture.