MB: There Was Never Any Intention to Oppress Musang King Durian Famers

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RPDR-PKPP said durian farmers in Raub will still be able to make a profit even when selling the Musang King Grade A durians produced at the proposed fixed rate of RM30 per kg.

Muhammad Yusuf Ibrahim

The Pahang government has never intended to oppress the Musang King durian farmers who cultivate the crop illegally around Raub district, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

On the other hand, Wan Rosdy said that action taken by the state government was based on the provisions allowed under the law.

“The farmers involved should also be law-abiding citizens by vacating government land that they have occupied illegally all this while and the state government hopes to get cooperation from the parties involved.

Bernama

“The state government has also reiterated its stance that it will not compromise on the issue of land cultivated illegally by the farmers involved,” he said in a media statement today.

He stressed the Pahang government remains committed to taking action against farmers cultivating illegally encroached land in Raub, but added that he hoped the farmers would cooperate with the state government to resolve the current impasse on Musang King durian farms in the state.

This comes on the heels of a growing dispute over land ownership related to Musang King durian farms in Raub that began in July last year when state firm Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang (PKPP) and Royal Pahang Durian Group (RPD) entered a joint venture to cultivate the fruit commercially on a large scale.

The joint venture birthed Royal Pahang Durian Resources PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP), an entity formed and authorised to handle the legalising process of farms said to exist on encroached land.

This after they were awarded in June the lease and rights to use 5,357 acres of land in Raub for 30 plus 30 years.

Wan Rosdy said that the state government currently had to temporarily postpone the enforcement action of the eviction notice against the farmers involved until the application of 111 gardeners to obtain judicial review of the notice, to be decided by the High Court here on Oct 28.

On Aug 28, Kuantan High Court Judge Datuk Zainal Azman Ab Aziz allowed the farmers’ application to obtain a temporary suspension order against the eviction notice issued by the Raub District and Land Office and the Pahang Forestry Department.

The application was made after the state government began taking action against farmers who allegedly cultivated durian plantations around Raub illegally in early August, as the illegal plantations had allegedly caused losses to the state government as well as water pollution issues.

Meanwhile, RPDR-PKPP said durian farmers in Raub will still be able to make a profit even when selling the Musang King Grade A durians produced at the proposed fixed rate of RM30 per kg.

Touching on a claim that durian farmers will have to pay RM6,000 per acre in rental annually, RPDR-PKPP clarified and reiterated that this is a “one-off lump sum payment” for the year 2020 only and only applicable to matured durian fruiting trees calculated at 30 trees per acre, noting that this payment is in exchange for letting durian farmers sell their durians freely to anyone they wanted.

“In return, the farmers are allowed to sell all their durians directly in the open market for the full year 2020 up till 31 May, 2021,” the company said in a statement.

“To further accommodate the farmers’ financial relief request, PDRP-PKPP has agreed to split the payment into three equal instalments respectively payable in September 2020, December 2020 and March 2021.

As for the obligation to only sell durians to RPDR-PKPP, they said this would only take effect on June 1, 2021, which is also when the legalisation scheme starts.

RPDR-PKPP stressed that its proposed price of RM30 per kg for Grade A Musang King is fair, saying that assuming a farmer owns 10-acres of land, his minimum gross revenue based on 2,000 kg per acre for grade A Musang King was expected to reach RM600,000.

“Based on independent verification, the production cost is about RM8 per kg and the farmers are assured to gain a margin of more than 200 percent.

“We remain open to discussions with farmers who have yet to register under the legalisation scheme and urge them to come forward,” read the statement.

Last week, the Save Musang King Alliance (Samka) group comprising durian farmers without permits in Raub claimed that the ongoing durian farming land legalisation turmoil was due to a “lopsided” agreement by RPDR-PKPP.

The group demanded an explanation from RPDR-PKPP, saying the unfair agreement had violated the farmers’ rights.

On claims that the levy amounting to RM20,000 per acre was exorbitant, RPDR-PKPP said the amount is the maximum ceiling amount which RPDR-PKPP will receive.

“This RM20,000 per acre is based on our calculation (RM10 per kg x 2,000kg). There is no penalty if farmers do not meet the tonnage targets as per the term sheet. For example, if farmers can only produce 1,000kg or less per-acre, RPDR-PKPP may potentially receive as low as RM10,000 per acre or less.

“Being the legalisation scheme company, RPDR-PKPP has been entrusted to ensure farmers do not commit further encroachments, prevent further degradation of the environment and comply with Malaysian Good Agricultural Practice (MyGAP) requirements for certifications,” it read.