Royal Pahang denies farmers object to legalisation scheme

by NUR HANANI AZMAN

ROYAL Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP) has denied claims that farmers in Raub are objecting to a legalisation scheme, saying there are 300 farmers registered with the company so far.

According to RPDR-PKPP, 133 farmers have joined the scheme and partially paid the earnest money (deposit) of RM1,000 per acre (0.4ha).

“The balance of the earnest money only needs to be paid after signing a definitive agreement with RPDR-PKPP. The requirement for earnest money is mandated by the Pahang state government ,” it said in a statement yesterday.

On claims that farmers are required to pay a levy of RM6,000 per 0.4ha, RPDR-PKPP said it is a one-off payment only and applicable for this year to farms with mature durian trees at 30 trees per acre.

“In return, the farmers are allowed to sell all their durians directly in the open market for the full year 2020 up till May 31, 2021.

“The obligation to sell durians to Royal Pahang Durian Export Sdn Bhd will take effect only on June 1, 2021 (legalisation scheme starts),” it added.

To further accommodate the farmers’ financial relief request, RPDR-PKPP has agreed to split the payment into three equal instalments payable in September 2020, December 2020 and March 2021.

Last month, 111 durian farmers in Raub filed for a judicial review against six respondents including the Pahang government, PKPP and RPDR-PKPP, seeking to challenge the state government’s decision to lease 5,357 acres of land to RPDR-PKPP as well as the order to the farmers to vacate the land.

The High Court in Kuantan has fixed Oct 28 to hear the application by these Musang King durian planters in Raub to obtain permission for a judicial review against the state government’s order and decision for them to vacate their farms.

Still, RPDR-PKPP said it remains open to discuss with farmers who have yet to register to the legalisation scheme.

On claims that the levy amounting to RM20,000 per acre is exorbitant, RPDR-PKPP said the amount is the maximum ceiling amount which RPDR-PKPP will receive.

“This RM20,000 per acre is based on our calculation (RM10 per kg x 2,000kg). There is no penalty if farmers do not meet the tonnage targets as per the term sheet. For example, if farmers can only produce 1,000kg or less per acre, RPDR-PKPP may potentially receive as low as RM10,000 per acre or less.

“Being the legalisation scheme company, RPDR-PKPP has been entrusted to ensure farmers do not commit further encroachment, prevent further degradation of the environment and comply with Malaysian Good Agricultural Practice requirements for certifications,” the firm said.

In March, the Royal Pahang Durian Group signed two shareholders’ agreements with Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang to facilitate its entry into large-scale durian processing and its participation in the legalisation of encroached farming in the district of Raub, Pahang.

Under this agreement, both parties would participate in the legalisation exercise involving initially no less than 7,000 acres in the district of Raub, which have been affected by encroached farming.