191,851 ha of NCR land cultivated with oil palm - Masing

KUCHING : AS of April 30 this year, a total of 191,851 hectares of native customary rights (NCR) land have been cultivated with oil palm by various joint-venture companies and smallholders. 

This was disclosed by Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing in his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) in Kuching yesterday.

He informed the august house that NCR land developed under the new concept of development, commonly referred to as the Joint-Venture (JV) Model, accounted for 66,671 hectares, an increase of about 10 per cent from the planted acreage about a year ago, and that more NCR land was expected to be cultivated with oil palm under this model in the next few years since activities on the creation of land bank in several projects were on-going.

However, he said although it was very often mentioned that it was estimated that 1.5 million hectares of land in the state were NCR land, it was impossible to develop all of them due to the uncertainties on the exact extent of such land and their rightful owners.

Thus, he said, the federal government had agreed to fund the perimeter survey exercise in the state which had been carried out since 2010 with the aim to demarcate and determine the boundary between NCR land and state land. He said only after the survey had been completed that it will be easier to develop the land.

“In short, the NCR land perimeter survey, once completed, will remove all uncertainties about its overall size, locations and boundaries with state land where from the development perspective it is easier to develop the land, as there is no further necessity to verify the status of land as NCR land, the process of which can be very tedious and time-consuming,” he told the august house.

Therefore, he said, members of the opposition should look at the survey from the perspective of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and not doubt or merely criticise just about anything that the government was trying to do to assist the NCR landowners.

According to him, the government would not develop NCR land if there was no application from the people themselves. “This means that the government will only consider the development when and after the people have expressed their interest, through their application,” he said. He said for those who opted not to participate in the land development projects their land would not be touched.

“Thus, there is no compulsion and no forced use of the land. Those who join the development scheme do so on their own free will and on voluntary basis,” said Masing.