- Federal Land Development Authority (Malaysia)
The Federal Land Development Authority (more commonly referred to as FELDA) is a
Malaysian government agency handling the resettlement of ruralpoor into newly developed areas. It focuses on opening smallholder farms growing cash crops. FELDA's schemes are generally open only to ethnic Malays, who form a majority of the Malaysian population. As of 2000, FELDA has about 9,000 square kilometres of land in cultivation, most of them oil palmestates. Although FELDA is mainly pre-occupied with alleviating rural poverty through resettlement, it reportedly holds a minority stake in some major Malaysian banks.
FELDA was formed on
July 1 1956when the Land Development Act came into force. [ [http://www.felda.net.my/info/peranan.htm "Penubuhan"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.] Its initial capital was M$10 million, and the first FELDA settlement, comprising 16.2 square kilometres of land and focused on rubber, was opened at Ayer Lanasthe following year. In 1958, five similar schemes were opened. Simeh, Arif & Tengku Ahmad, Tengku Mohd. Ariff (2001). [http://r0.unctad.org/infocomm/Diversification/bangkok/palmoil.pdf "The Case Study on the Malaysian Palm Oil"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.]
In the 1960s and 1970s, government policy began to emphasise crop diversification, in an effort to avoid being affected if the world price of rubber were to drop precipitously. In 1961, FELDA's first
oil palmsettlement opened, with 3.75 km² of land. As of 2000, 6,855.2 km² (approximately 76%) of the land under FELDA's programs are devoted to oil palms.
FELDA focuses mainly on
West Malaysia(Peninsular Malaysia); other government agencies are responsible for land development in the states of Sabahand Sarawak, which form East Malaysia. [Manshard, Walther & Morgan, William B. (eds., 1988). [http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80636e/80636E03.htm "Malaysia"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.]
Settlers are drawn from rural Malay poor. [Ryter, Loren S. (Jan. 10, 2005). [http://www.malaysia-today.net/SunWDML/2005_01_10_MT_SunWDML_archive.htm "A History of Race Relations in Malaysia"] . "
Malaysia Today".] They should be aged between 21 and 50 years, married, and physically fit. Priority was given to those who did not own any land to farm.
New settlers are assigned to a particular settlement, and are given 10
acres (40,000 m² or 4.1 hectares), 12 acres (4.9 hectares) or 14 acres (5.7 hectares) [Simeh, A. and Tengku Ahmad, T.M.A., 2001. The case study on the Malaysian palm oil. REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON COMMODITY EXPORT DIVERSIFICATION AND POVERTY REDUCTION IN SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ASIA (BANGKOK, 3-5 APRIL, 2001) ORGANIZED BY UNCTAD IN COOPERATION WITH ESCAP. Available from: http://r0.unctad.org/infocomm/Diversification/bangkok/palmoil.pdf. Accessed 7 October 2007.] of land to cultivate usually either rubber or oil palms. [ [http://www.felda.net.my/info/profil_rancangan.htm "Kawasan Kebun"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.] All settlers must reside at the settlement itself, and are allotted 0.25 acres (1,000 m²) in a planned village, where their home — already built by FELDA — is located. Although basic infrastructure, such as piped waterand electricity, used to be lackingMassard, Josiane L. (1988). [http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80636e/80636E0g.htm "Are Malaysian land settlers (new) peasants? Antropological observation of a nascent Community"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.] , nowadays such facilities are readily provided. Schools, medical centres, and places of worship are also provided. [ [http://www.felda.net.my/info/profil_rancangan2.htm "Kawasan Perkampungan"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.]
Originally, FELDA schemes were designed as
co-operatives, where instead of each settler owning a defined piece of land, each settler held an equal share in the ownership of the particular scheme. However, the settlers did not prefer this scheme, as workers who did not tend to the land properly still benefited (a sort of free rider problem). The government then set up a 3-phase plan, where in the first phase, the co-operative remained as a mechanism for the settlers to learn how to farm. In the second phase, each settler was given a specific plot of land to work, and in the third phase, he was given the land title to that plot. However, the settler was forbidden from selling the land without permission from FELDA or the federal government. [Sbaran, Mohammad Shatar (2001). [http://www.apo-tokyo.org/icd/papers/E-Publications/02.IntegLocCommDev/03-09.pdf "MALAYSIA"] . Retrieved Feb. 19, 2006.]
The costs of acquiring, developing and allocating the land are borne by loans made to FELDA settlers. These loans are repaid in monthly instalments deducted from the settlers' income over a 15-year period.
Although settlers are supposed to focus on agricultural activities, it has been reported that a substantial number are also engaged in other activities, such as shopkeeping. Some are even employed in jobs outside the settlement.
In recent years, the growth of urban areas has led to a substantial increase in the land value of some settlements. With permission, many settlers have sold their farms, becoming instant
FELDA has diversified from its original business of land development, to other economic ventures — some of them entirely unrelated to land resettlement. Although FELDA has subsidiaries involved in businesses such as marketing, transportation, milling, etc., it also reportedly has a stake in some major Malaysian banks, such as
Maybank. [ [http://www.malaysia-today.net/Blog-e/2005_09_03_MT_BI_archive.htm "The National Auctioneer"] . (Sept. 3, 2005). "Malaysia Today".]
In popular culture
FELDA Taib Andak, Kulai, Johoris a hometown to Malaysian popular singer, Mawi.
* In 2006, FELDA had produced its first movie named
Bilut, named after the first FELDA settlement ever in Malaysia. Starring Rosyam Nor, the main plot of Bilut is about the obstacles faced by the early settlers of FELDA Lurah Bilut.
Notes and references
* [http://www.felda.net.my/info/home.htm Official website]
* [http://beliafeldacerul.blogspot.com/ Felda Youth]
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