Resolve ‘glaring’ land issues in Cameron Highlands, Sim tells Pahang BN govt

Deputy minister Sim Tze Tzin says agriculture cannot be modernised and agro-based industries cannot take off if land issues are not resolved. (AFP pic)

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The Barisan Nasional-led Pahang government should resolve the many “glaring” land issues affecting local farmers, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin said.

He said he had been informed of such issues during meetings with farmers and farm operators over the last few days.

“One of the problems faced by the farmers is their temporary occupancy licence (TOL).

“The farmers are required to renew this lease each year after the first three years are up.

“However, the approval is often delayed although some of the farmers have been renewing it for 40 years.

“This does not make sense as farming is their main source of income,” he told reporters at the PKR headquarters here today.

Sim proposed a longer lease so that the farmers could plan ahead and bring in technology for modern and sustainable farming.

It was reported that Sim’s ministry had set up a committee in August last year to resolve problems faced by farmers in Cameron Highlands.

The committee had identified such issues as the influx of foreign workers, land cultivation, subsidies, incentives, fertilisers and pesticides, and tax and marketing.

The agencies represented on the committee would be tasked with finding solutions to the problems.

Sim said the future of Cameron Highlands depended on three factors – farming with new technology, agro-tourism and agro-based industries.

“These could create job opportunities for the youths. Now they travel to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru to work.

“We want them to come back and get involved in modern farming. But in the end, we need the state government to resolve the outstanding land issues.

“If the problems remain, our agriculture cannot be modernised and agro-based industries cannot take off,” he said.

Calling on Pahang Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail to issue 30-year leases for the farmers, Sim added: “It takes years to invest in modern farming and technology and to bring people in to work on these farms.

“I hope the state government will address the matter by using this parliamentary by-election as a platform to discuss issues pertaining to land.”