KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 2): The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) are collaborating through the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) to accelerate the competitiveness of the national agriculture sector and improve the socio-economic outcomes for FELDA settlers.
In a statement, the NTIS said five high-technology companies had been selected to stress-test various drone and robotic solutions to improve aspects of harvesting, maintenance and fertilisation of palm oil plantations at selected FELDA sites.
This is the first batch test that will run between six and 12 months as learning from the initiative will be applied to more farming sites in the near future, it said.
It said two FELDA Mempaga schemes in Pahang, totalling 25 hectares, had been earmarked as implementation sites for the drone and robotic solutions.
FELDA chairman Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said FELDA continued to foster the application of modern facilities in the schemes, ensuring that the next generation of explorers continue to contribute to the country’s socio-economic progress.
“We are also targeting to raise the average income of FELDA settlers to above RM5,000 by 2023.
“The advanced technologies and cutting-edge solutions implemented through the NTIS are also expected to improve crop diversification and increase skilled employment for the settlers,” he said.
The NTIS said some of the technologies and solutions to be tested include precision spraying, an Artificial Intelligence Robotics Automated Farm and battery-powered harvesting machine for palm oil via palm oil bunch cutting action.
To date, 1,773 applications have been received, with RM18 million expected to be disbursed to companies by year end to enable them to work within the pilot test zones.
By relaxing certain regulations for real-life testing, the NTIS had eased the research and development (R&D) process for innovative solutions, fast-tracking the commercialisation rate of industry solutions, it said.
Meanwhile, MaGIC CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar said through the collaboration, the parties can advance and expand on more sectoral applications — including supplying real-time information on market demand, early detection and warning alerts for disease outbreaks, and benefits brought about by the Internet of things (IoT) and Industry 4.0.