More Jobs and Better Income For FELDA Settlers Through NTIS
28 November 2020, Kuala Lumpur – The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC) and Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) today announced a collaboration through the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) aimed at accelerating the competitiveness of the national agriculture sector whilst improving the socio-economic outcomes for settlers in FELDA schemes. This initiative will be led by MaGIC, the lead secretariat of NTIS, with the support of Malaysia Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) as the primary funding agency.
Five high-technology companies have 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 to 12 months, as learnings from the initiative will be applied to more farming sites in the near future.
Two FELDA Mempaga schemes in Pahang, totalling 25 hectares, have been earmarked as implementation sites for these drone and robotic solutions.
The collaboration also involves the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) which will test solutions in designated areas based on the milestones committed by the technology solution providers, for a period of six to 12 months. The agency will also provide technical and regulatory frameworks and parameters for drones to operate efficiently and safely.
Through the collaboration, the government expects to raise the average income level, while creating higher value economic opportunities for the next generation of settlers.
Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation said, “Farmers have faced erratic demand, disrupted supply chains and other challenges which have led to job losses and poorer earnings due to the pandemic.
The collaboration today is timely as employment in the agriculture sector accounts for over 12 percent of national employment and we want to set the sector on the recovery path as quickly as possible. Beyond jobs, the initiative will also look to skill up the labour force and position them for increased income potential.”
The Minister cited that the NTIS will put to flight new innovations that will modernize Malaysia’s agriculture sector with advanced intelligence systems and advanced materials.
“The collaboration with FELDA demonstrates how technology delivers social impact, and with this, creates economic value through aspects of fertigation and smart farming, amongst others. We must establish good relations with the players in this ecosystem because the process of recovery and economic development of the country requires co-operation of all parties” he said.
Dato Seri Idris Jusoh, Chairman of FELDA said, “FELDA continues to foster the application of modern facilities on the schemes, ensuring 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 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.
Some of the technologies and solutions that will 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 the end of the year in order to enable them to work within pilot test zones. By relaxing certain regulations for real-life testing, NTIS eases the research and development process for innovative solutions, thus fast-tracking the commercialisation rate for industry solutions.
FELDA and MaGIC also signed a Memorandum of Understanding today to enable both organisations to collaborate on future programmes, beyond the NTIS.
Dzuleira Abu Bakar, CEO of MaGIC and the NTIS Lead Secretariat said, “We are excited about connecting our startups with FELDA as through this, we can advance and expand on more sectoral applications - including supplying real-time information on market demand, early detection and warning alerts on disease outbreaks and other benefits brought about through the internet of things and Industry 4.0.”
Summary of the technology solution tests
About the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS)
National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) is a facility that allows researchers, innovators, startups and high-tech entrepreneurs to test their products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment.
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation spearheads the NTIS which aims at addressing societal and sectoral issues, in which the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) is the lead secretariat.
Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) was established on 1 July 1956 pursuant to Act 474 ofthe Land Development Ordinance 1956 with the primary objective of poverty eradication through landdevelopment and resettlement. In 1990, FELDA stopped the intake of new settlers after having settledand uplifted the livelihood of 112,638 settler families in 317 schemes nationwide. The government hasentrusted FELDA to stand financially independent as a statutory body without any operational fundsfrom national coffers since 1996. FELDA consequently establishes subsidiaries to support a completesupply chain for its core business. Today, FELDA remains committed in its mission to enhance socialmobility of its settlers including but not limited to providing essential infrastructures at the schemes aswell as taking care of educational aspects for the new generation of FELDA. In remaining resilientthrough challenges, FELDA has orchestrated a comprehensive plan to create a Settlers DevelopmentProgramme (SDP) which aims to increase, diversify and stabilize settlers’ income as well as reducingdependence on palm oil and rubber commodity. The SDP is an important instrument as a part ofFELDA New Model to uplift socio-economic status of our settlers.
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