Sunday, August 9, 2009

SLDB MoU With Sefoda

IT’S A DONE DEAL: Datuk Haji Sapawi Ahmad (second from left) and Datuk Masrani Parman (second from right) are all smiles as they exchange the jv documents after signing the agreement yesterday. Witnessing the signing was Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin (centre) who is also Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries, Jhuvarri Majid (left) and Francis Otigil (right).

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Land Development Board’s aspiration of creating an agro hub in the interior is no longer a dream.

Thursday (yesterday) SLDB signed an agreement with the Sabah Forestry Development Authority (Safoda) to jointly work on a 5,250-hectare piece of land in the Sook sub district for agriculture development.

Also involved in the RM100 million project is the State Government through the Ministry of Finance.

Signing the agreement was SLDB Chairman, Datuk Haji Sapawi Ahmad and his SAFODA counterpart, Datuk Masrani Parman. It was witnessed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin who is also Minter of Agriculture and Food Industries.

Also present was SAFODA deputy chairman, Tan Sri Ibrahim Menudin as well as SLDB General Manager Encik Jhuvarri Majid and his SAFODA counterpart, Encik Francis Otigil.

The principal activity in this joint venture would be the cultivation of oil palm.

Briefing Yahya, officials and guests present, Jhuvarri however said that the joint venture company, Keningau Agro-Venture Sdn Bhd, would be involved in more than oil palm.

“This is not going to be one more oil palm plantation; rather it is more of an agro hub where there will be a training school as well as research and development facilities,” he pointed out.

“We are a major agriculture player but sadly we lack the manpower and trained supervisors and managers. We aim to overcome this by providing a training facility.

“The R&D facility will not be only for oil palm but also for rubber and jatropha and other food-related crops,” added Jhuvarri.

He said the project, once fully developed over five years, would start a new growth area in Keningau, as there will be schools, a hospital and other amenities for a township.

Jhuvarri said the project would create numerous job opportunities for local youth and they would be given preference in employment.

SLDB expects to spend RM100 million over a five-year period, but expects a steady annual return of RM450 million at current prices (RM2,000 per tonne) of crude palm oil.

The project was first mooted in 2003 when chief minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman at the launching of Keningau Palm Oil Mill suggested that SLDB work with SAFODA to develop SAFODA’s land in Sook.

After certain formalities were iron out, Keningau Agro-Venture was set up in 2007 and an environmental impact assessment study was made the same year,

The EIA study was approved last year.

The project site covers four areas – Karamatoi, Punteh Extension (Belinin), Punteh and Sook Extension (Barasanon).

In anticipation of the project, SLDB opened up an oil palm nursery in Karamatoi early 2009 to produce 400,000 seedlings. Currently there are 225,355 seedlings of various month -ages.

SLDB holds a 60 per cent stake in the company with SAFODA holding a 35 per cent share while the remaining five per cent is held by Ministry of Finance.-by SLDB

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