Since its establishment in 1956, the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), the world’s largest plantation operator, has demonstrated tremendous success in economic development and societal advancement for some of the hundreds of thousands of smallholders throughout Malaysia that account for 39% of the country’s palm oil production. Thanks to the development supported by the company, rural communities have benefitted from infrastructure development, schools and medical facilities. Meanwhile, as many as 30,000 youngsters associated with FELDA have been provided with the opportunity to train with Cardiff City football club of England.
The benefits afforded by FELDA has not been lost on other countries, who are now looking to benefit from the development programme of supporting land ownership for small producers as a way of reducing poverty. Most recently, Cambodian officials have offered to open up 160,000 hectares for development in the country according to a report by Bernama. “I believe we will study the offer as it is a good opportunity,” FELDA Chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad was quoted as saying during a recently concluded Felda products exhibition in Yangon.
Smallholder schemes such as those supported by FELDA have been enormously successful in reducing poverty throughout the country, contributing to an average income among producers 4 times higher than the national poverty level. And certification of FELDA producers under Germany’s International Sustainability and Carbon Certification scheme demonstrates the superior production practices employed by Malaysia’s smallholders.
As Malaysia pursues its ambitions of achieving high-income status by 2020, more and more countries will realize the benefits of FELDA’s success and look to Malaysia for leadership in community-wide economic prosperity.