Saturday, August 30, 2008

Farmers: Give out incentives fairly

Farmers: Give out incentives fairly
Saturday August 30, 2008

THE RM5.6bil provided under the National Food Security Policy for incentives to help agriculture entrepreneurs is good news to the Federation of Vegetable Sellers Associations.

However, its adviser Datuk Yeoh Chip Tong said in George Town yesterday that the incentives must be distributed fairly to all who genuinely deserve it regardless of race.

The incentives are meant to encourage higher agriculture output among agriculture entrepreneurs. More than 1,300ha of abandoned land has been identified for padi, fruits, vegetables and livestock.

About 350,000 vegetable and fruit growers, as well as aquaculture and livestock breeders, will benefit.

Yeoh said consumers would reap the most benefit with the introduction of such incentives.

With the incentives, Yeoh said he hoped to see more participation from various races in the sector as currently there are still segregated groups in the sector with the Chinese growing fruits and vegetables and the Malays growing padi.

On the RM1bil allocation which will assist 220,000 padi farmers, Yeoh said it was insufficient compared to other sectors which had secured a bigger slice in the 2009 Budget.

The move to abolish import duties on fertilisers and pesticides has met with mixed reaction from farmers in Cameron Highlands.

Federation of Malaysia Vegetable Growers Association secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said in Ipoh that any measure to reduce the operating cost of farmers was most welcome.

While the import duties for fertilisers and pesticides varied, Chay said farmers would be saving RM100 for every metric tonne of fertiliser costing RM2,000 if its import duty had been at 5%.

However, Cameron Highlands Flower Floriculture Association chairman Lee Peng Fo said that taking away the import duty translated to nothing.

“Instead, the Government should control the price of fertilisers and pesticides because importers are buying them cheap but selling to us dear,” he said.

Lee also said that farmers would have been happier if the Government had offered them help in the form of subsidies.

“In the last Budget, the Government had brought down our electricity charges. This time there is nothing for us.” -- The Star

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fun in the hills (for seniors)

Fun in the hills
Monday August 25, 2008
By George Lee

Life can be lived with gusto, even in one’s senior years.

WHO says seniors have to sit in one corner alone and stare at the “lost” horizon day in, day out, and miss out on all the fun? Given the opportunity, we love to get around and socialise.

I look forward to the weekly fellowship on Saturdays. Seniors with cars often bring one or two new friends along. Those without transport wait for the van – driven by volunteers – to pick them up.

The tea plantations of Cameron Highlands are a big draw for tourists.
The tea plantations of Cameron Highlands are a big draw for tourists.

After a breakfast, we socialise, exercise, sing and dance or do whatever it takes to get the old self ticking again.

All too soon, it’s time for lunch, which is about 12.30pm, and then it’s “bye till we meet again next week”.

Those who are active and mobile look forward to outdoor activities and visits. Then there are much-awaited yearly trips to Cameron Highlands to savour the cool outdoors and enjoy the scrumptious seafood.

Our last trip there a few months ago was a huge success. We had fun sightseeing, playing games, shopping and feasting.

With the new highway, it was not necessary to leave Penang late in the night and spend hours travelling uphill from the Tapah exit. Now it’s an early start at 6am from Penang Island. We headed to Butterworth for breakfast, and had lunch later along the way.

Have your pick of fresh strawberries from the farm.
Have your pick of fresh strawberries from the farm.

Shortly after Ipoh, we took the Simpang Pulai exit and headed for the hills. From there the drive up was smooth and pleasant. The road is less winding and wider than the old route from Tapah.

The half-way stop provided the opportunity to stretch our legs and, for some, the much-needed toilet break and tea. That’s the beauty of it. Organised by seniors for seniors, all our needs were looked into.

We had a great time together. The weather was pleasantly cool. We did lots of shopping, too. Seniors may be slow in some things but when it comes to shopping and getting the best bargains, we are at our most active. During that time, nothing else matters. One nearly missed the bus home.

One is never too old to learn new things. We visited a tea plantation and saw how tea was harvested, processed and packed, and we were served tea with cakes and scones.

We sampled the honey from the bee farm, and bought freshly harvested vegetables and strawberries from the farms that we visited.

Life can be as interesting as we make of it. There’s really no time to sit and mope at home. If you’re feeling bored and lonely, you are most welcome to our weekly fellowship.

Senior is a fortnightly page dedicated to senior citizens. We welcome real-life stories happy, sad, inspiring, heartwarming from readers who are 55 and above. E-mail them to -- The Star.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Highway realigned to help small towns

Highway realigned to help small towns
Friday August 15, 2008

KUALA TERENGGANU: The several realignments made to the East Coast Highway were to benefit the smaller towns, the state assembly was told yesterday.

The state government did not want to see the smaller towns, especially Kuala Berang, turn into sleepy hollows, said Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said.

“We don’t want the same situation that hit Temerloh and Maran (in Pahang) to recur here, and the state government therefore constantly consulted the Federal Government to review the alignments,” he said in reply to a written question by Mohd Zawawi Ismail (BN – Kuala Berang).

He said, with the new alignments, towns like Kuala Berang would still be lively, as the interchange would be situated only five minutes from the town.

Ahmad said the highway link to Kuala Berang was also complemented by a new connection to Cameron Highlands and Ipoh via Aring and Gua Musang in Kelantan.

He said with the road connection to Perak, the state government would also enhance infrastructure and develop more shophouses in Kuala Berang.

Meanwhile, the assembly was also told that the state received RM510.76mil in investment from foreign and local investors between January and May.

State Industrial, Commerce and Environmental committee chairman Toh Chin Yaw said foreign investors invested RM38.26mil in Kerteh and Telok Kalong Industrial estate in Kemaman.

Toh, replying to a question by Datuk Tengku Hassan Tengku Omar (PAS – Ladang), said the state government would revive the less popular industrial estates, like in Batu Rakit here, to attract more investors.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industry committee chairman Rozi Mamat said plans were afoot to expand the Bumi Hijau agro programme to selected schools. The state government had allocated RM20,000 for this purpose.

The Bumi Hijau programme was mooted to encourage the people to cultivate vegetables in their backyard for their own consumption to defray the escalating cost of living. -- The Star.

Comment: So look like in future there will be another new route from East Coast Highway.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

No greens from Highlands on Saturdays

No greens from Highlands on Saturdays
Wednesday August 6, 2008
By Clara Chooi

VEGETABLES from Cameron Highlands are no longer available at the Selayang wholesale market on Saturdays.

This is because the Cameron Highlands Vegetable Transport Association has temporarily stopped transporting vegetables to the market since mid-July.

Other smaller markets in Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are also affected by the move.

“Saturday has always been considered our only day off in the week.

“Despite that, we still transported the vegetables from Cameron Highlands every Saturday in the past,” association president Lau Sai Hoong said recently.

He added that members of the association were finding it hard to cope with the additional costs since the fuel price increase two months ago.

“We have been trying to negotiate with the Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesalers Association for a higher payment but we were unable to come to an agreement,” Lau said.

In comparison, wholesalers in Ipoh and Singapore had already accepted the new prices charged by the transporters and agreed to the Saturday off-day, he said.

Lau said previously, the transportation cost for vegetables sent to the Selayang market was 10sen per kg of vegetables, while that for vegetables sent to Ipoh and Singapore was six sen and 22 sen respectively.

“Now, wholesalers in Ipoh have agreed to pay 10 sen per kg and those in Singapore, 30 sen,” he said, adding that they had been trying to negotiate with the KL association for a price of 15 sen per kg but the latter had only agreed to 13 sen.

Lau said there were about 40 members in his association, each of whom owned between two and seven lorries.

He said on average, 5,000kg of vegetables were transported from Cameron Highlands daily.

“From Sundays to Fridays, about 50 lorries will transport the vegetables and on Saturdays, about 20 lorries would hit the roads in the past.

“Now, however, we will only transport the vegetables from Sundays to Fridays. Saturday is our off-day,” said Lau.

He added that market-goers should avoid buying vegetables from the Selayang market on Saturdays, as the prices would definitely be higher.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pahang to have a hospital in each district

Pahang to have a hospital in each district
Tuesday August 5, 2008

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Two more hospitals will be built in Pahang this year to ensure all its districts have one each, Health Minister Datuk Liow Tong Lai said.

Liow said the last two would be built in Rompin and Bera districts after the completion of hospitals in Cameron Highlands, Pekan and Temerloh.

He said the Sultan Hajjah Kalsom Hospital in Cameron Highlands was the latest to be completed.

Royal touch: Sultan Ahmad Shah (right) pampering day-old baby girl named Kalsom carried by Sultanah Kalsom while Liow looks on at the hosital in Cameron Highlands recently.
Royal touch: Sultan Ahmad Shah (right) pampering day-old baby girl named Kalsom carried by Sultanah Kalsom while Liow looks on at the hosital in Cameron Highlands recently.

“The Federal Government’s commitment to providing facilities for healthcare is shown with the availability of the hospitals and health clinics in most villages.

“Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom Hospital built at a cost of RM112mil will replace the community hospital and benefit patients from Ipoh in Perak.

“In the 9th Malaysia Plan, apart from the hospitals in Rompin and Bera which are under construction, there are 22 health clinics, 16 community clinics, 19 upgraded hospitals and 20 staff quarters, while a project to upgrade a health clinic has been approved,” Liow said in his speech during the official opening and renaming of the hospital here recently.

The Cameron Highlands Hos–pital was renamed after Sultan Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah’s wife Sultanah Kalsom.

Sultan Ahmad Shah officiated at the ceremony while Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and wife Datin Seri Junaini Kassim and other state dignitaries were present.

Liow said the hospital, which had been operational from January, had 76 beds and could provide outpatient and in-patient, operation theatre and physiotherapy services.

“The hospital will be served by visiting specialists from Ipoh Hospital for children, obstetric, gynaecology and psychiatric services, while surgeons will come later.

“We provide shuttle services from Tanah Rata to the hospital, which is quite a distance from the town,” he said.

Liow said some critical cases were previously referred to Ipoh Hospital, however, patients from Perak who lived near here could seek treatment at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Sultan Ahmad Shah said, with the increase tourists, it was timely for the highland destination to have a hospital.

“I advise people to keep having programmes to promote healthy living, take healthy food and participate in healthy activities.

“We need to keep reminding people to care for their health as prevention is better than cure,” Sultan Ahmad Shah said. -- The Star.