TENOM: The government has disbursed RM35 million through the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS) to be paid to 58,333 rubber smallholders in the state to help ease their burden during the monsoon season, said Sabah Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong .
He said the payments were for three months, beginning November last year, with the smallholders receiving RM200 a month.
Speaking at the presentation of the monsoon aid and land titles to settlers at the Kuala Tomani and Lagud Seberang Rubber Settlement Scheme here today, he said 5,678 of the recipients were from Tenom, who will be receiving their payments, totalling RM3.4 million, from today.
On the new rubber planting and replanting projects in Sabah, Wong said 5,016 hectares was being developed this year for the benefit of 1,672 smallholders.
“In Tenom alone, 19,311.65 hectares has been planted with rubber to accommodate 5,417 smallholders,” he said, adding that the smallholders were also involved in the Additional Economic Activity (AET) Programme to supplement their income.
Under the AET programme, the smallholders plant ginger, pepper and fruit tress, as well as rear bees, with the federal government having allocated RM3 million for the project, he added.
Wong said the government had also introduced the Rubber Production Incentive Scheme (IPG) to reduce the impact of falling rubber prices.
He said IPG aid would be paid to smallholders when the average monthly price of rubber dropped to below RM2.50 per kg.
“Currently, the price of rubber in Sabah is higher than in the peninsula. In Sabah, we are buying it at RM2.80 per kg instead of RM2.50 per kg (in the peninsula),” he added.