Sime Darby Plans RM100 Million Palm Oil Investment in Sarawak

Sime Darby Plantation Sdn Bhd is set to invest an initial RM100 million to develop oil palm plantations on Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands in Julau, about 55km from Sarikei, Sarawak.

Its Plantation Agency and Consultation head Mohd Helmy Othman Basha said the project would cover an area of about 20,000ha.

“This is is our first project in Sarawak and incidentally on the state’s Native Customary Rights land.

“The project will be in a joint ventureship with landowners from 109 longhouses in three areas namely KJD/Lower Julau, Sungai Julau/Sungai Pitoh and Merurun/Meluan/Entabai,” he told reporters yesterday.
Representing the landowners at the joint venture agreement signing ceremony at a community hall in Sarikei was the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA). Present was State Land Development Minister Datuk Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

Helmy said the preparatory work would begin after Sime Darby had done and submitted the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment report to the authority concerned.

“We expect to begin in a month’s time after this. However, we are very pleased that so far there have been very positive responses from the landowners concerned.

“But we will continue to explain the joint ventureship concept further and to more others. Let the people have very clear understanding for them to appreciate and accept, and for us to proceed smoothly,” he said.

In the joint venture, Sime Darby will hold 60 per cent equity while the landowners 30 per cent and LCDA 10 per cent.

Helmy said the target was for Sime Darby to develop around 50,000ha in Sarawak and another 50,000ha in Sabah.

In a speech earlier, Dr Masing told people in the area not to doubt Sime Darby’s ability.

“We are looking at a very well established and leading multinational conglomerate which has about 100 years experience in developing not only oil palm but also rubber plantations in Sabah and the Peninsular.

“Sime Darby too has more than 560,000ha under oil palm plantations in the country and in Indonesia,” he said.

“I am very optimistic of the success of this joint venture provided the landowners concerned give their fullest co-operation to Sime Darby and LCDA which is looking after their rights and interests,” he added.

Dr Masing said a representative chosen from among the landowners would be appointed to sit on the joint venture’s board of management to keep them informed on any latest developments.

He said the landowners would stand to gain as through the plantation they could find jobs and business opportunities and receive dividends and bonuses when the crop is harvested.

At the same time, he said, they could enjoy better infrastructure facilities like roads as the company would have to build more roads into the interiors affected.

“Each individual landowner will know the exact size and location of his or her land which will be officially recognised,” he said. – Bernama Source : Business Times

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