Samka: RPDR-PKPP’s Claim About Durian Farms Does Not Hold Water

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Barely two days after Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP) attempted to set the record straight on the durian farm legalisation scheme proposal in Raub, farmers here have now accused them of lying.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

On Tuesday, RPDR-PKPP issued a “detailed statement” to answer all the allegations raised by Save Musang King Alliance (Samka) hoping to put the matter to rest, but it appears that the durian farmers here have other ideas.

Samka, in a statement today, said claims that some 300 farmers were prepared to register with RPDR-PKPP and 133 farmers had paid the earnest money (deposit) of RM1,000 was untrue.

“These are farmers who attended RPDR-PKPP briefing and registered themselves before the briefing began. The so-called “payment” was not to sign the contract but purchase an entry permit to their farms.

“RPDR-PKPP told the farmers only those who purchased the “entry permit” will be allowed to enter their farms after Aug 24. Due to immense pressure, some farmers purchased the entry permit, not because they had agreed to the terms and that they were ready to sign the contract,” read the statement.

Samka, a group comprising durian farmers without permits in Raub, claimed that when the farmers made the payment (deposit), RPDR-PKPP promised that full reimbursement will be given if they decide not to sign the contract.

However, Samka said RPDR-PKPP shocked many when they told the media that farmers had agreed to the terms in the contract, despite the fact that farmers had only paid for entry permits.

“It appears that RPDR-PKPP is trying to mislead the public into believing that the farmers had agreed to the deal. Samka is now calling upon the private company to reimburse all payments for the entry permits in order to prevent farmers from being further exploited,” it read.

On the one-off RM6,000 per acre (0.4ha) levy for this year, Samka claimed that RPDR-PKPP had failed to explain the reason for imposing such fee as it is seen as a rent-seeking strategy to gain profit from the farmers.

“Imposing such unreasonable fee this year reflects that the corporation is facing a financial crisis and therefore has to impose an exorbitant levy to survive.

“Claims that the production cost of durians is about RM8 per kg is baseless.

“Is RPDR-PKPP aware that it would take up to 10 years for a durian seed to grow into a matured tree? The farmers’ profit or losses will be determined by various factors including weather. It appears that the corporation has zero knowledge in durian farming and knows little about the hardship of the farmers,” it read.

Samka said if the Pahang government was genuine in protecting the environment, it should engage the farmers and hold a dialogue instead of choosing a private corporation as a middleman that allegedly offered an unequal contract to the farmers.

A recent joint venture deal between RPDR-PKPP had upset durian farmers in Raub who claimed that the deal would result in small-scale farmers incurring losses.

Yesterday, the farmers said they were prepared to work with the Pahang government to solve the issues involving unlicensed farms, on the condition that RPDR-PKPP ceased their involvement in the scheme. – NST