Develop rural economy or risk wider poverty gap, says Tok Mat

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan says Felda must undergo ‘radical’ change.

PETALING JAYA: Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan this evening outlined four strategies for Putrajaya to develop the rural economy, or risk seeing the poverty gap with the urban areas widen.

He said rural Malaysia must be turned into new growth hubs that can help sustain the country’s economy.

The first strategy, Mohamad said, was to do something “radical” with Felda by giving settlers incentives to diversify their plantations and stock breeding.

This, he said, would help reduce the nation’s dependency on imported meat.

He also proposed that the government embark on a comprehensive programme to “re-energise” the fisheries industry.

“This country is a maritime nation and its extraordinary potential is yet to be optimised. There must be sufficient supply of fish for the nation, with only surplus set aside for export,” Mohamad, better known as Tok Mat, said in a statement.

Thirdly, he said, the government should draw up specific strategies with several Middle Eastern countries, which would see the nation become the main food exporter for these nations which were highly dependent on imported produce.

And lastly, the skills of the younger generation in the rural areas must be enhanced. This, Mohamad explained, was because they could not migrate to the cities in the current economic climate.

They must be equipped with skills that are relevant to the rural economy, he said.

“In our excitement over ‘gig economies’ and ‘network economies’, we shouldn’t ignore the potential of rural Malaysia. It is the traditional economies that, in the end, are the main pillars of the country’s economic stability,” he said.