PENAMPANG 1/10/2012: Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok yesterday urged the relevant agency in Sabah to speed up the survey of land and the issuance of land titles to applicants.
According to him, he had been approached many times by farmers who complained that they had made their land applications for some time but had never received the land title nor had the land been surveyed by the relevant agency.
“I ask those (the relevant agency) to improve this. Give them grant to the land they have applied for or at least get the land surveyed so that my ministry can help these smallholders,” he said.
Dompok said his ministry was keen on increasing the number of smallholders involved in the planting of oil palm and rubber trees as it had found these effective in eradicating poverty in the rural areas, as well as help increase agricultural production and improve the income of rural folk.
“We would like to increase the number of smallholders to a few thousands more, but the relevant agency will have to be helpful,” he said.
Only 40 percent of those involved in oil palm in Sabah are smallholders.
Meanwhile, Dompok said he had recently met with 37 palm oil mill owners in the Kinabatangan to discuss issues related to pollution and the river.
He said he had received a lot of proposals from the millers and that these had been taken up to the Director of Environment.
“The mills have a lot of proposals on what are the things they need to do because at the moment, what is required (of them) by the Department of Environment is very strict and some of the mills feel that they need time to comply fully with that,” he said.
Dompok said he had proposed that the millers formed a group to find ways and means to assist in the enforcement of laws and to voluntarily move to protect the environment.
He said he would be asking the Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to rate the mills in Kinabatangan to see who was doing most to comply and those who were not moving so fast.
“In the years ahead, the mills themselves will want to ensure that what they produce will not disturb the environment,” he said, adding that other than palm oil mills, there were other sources of pollution along the Kinabatangan.
The forestry activities, chalets and riverine communities also contributed to the problem, he said.
Asked about the time frame given to the millers, Dompok said there was none yet.
“We have yet to ascertain. We need to discuss with the Department of Environment. I view this with concern. I am doing all I can as the Minister of Plantations,” he said.