Land for the Landless, Jobs for the Jobless, Hope for the Future

malaysia_felda1On July 1, 1956 former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein Al-Haj formed the Federal Land Development Authority, or FELDA under the Land Development Ordinance. This government body was instituted with the purpose of settling and implementing land development projects throughout the Malaysian countryside with the goal of eradicating rural poverty and capitalizing on the vast, unrealized agricultural potential of Malaysia. From its birth up until 1990, FELDA implemented a total of 317 land development projects, yearly converting over 30,000 hectares of land and resettling and incorporating 6,000 individuals into the projects. Over this period of time, the standard of living and economic status of FELDA settlers have been raised above poverty levels and now reaches an average of RM 3,000/ year per household. With this elevated socio-economic status, settlers are now trained to run their schemes to ensure economic sustainability and continued success.

FELDA has grown over the years to include numerous subsidiaries and supportive bodies to aid in the maximization of the land development scheme. The settlements themselves make up a number of cooperatives (KPF1, KPF2) that allows the settlers to reap the fruits of their labors in the production of palm-oil, rubber and the other goods produced on the settlements. Currently an investment arm of the agency, FELDA Investment Corporation is being developed to manage the numerous interests under the program. The hopes for FIC is that with time it can become as prosperous as the agency’s commercial arm, FELDA Global Ventures. FGV has grown to a presence in over 10 countries, 4 continents and employing close to 19,000 people, capitalizing on the quality of Malaysian products and the economic strength of the FELDA development program.

Now in 2013, under the leadership of Director General Datuk Faizoull Ahmad, FELDA continues to be a force of social change not only in Malaysia, but throughout the globe. A monumental success within Malaysia, it is steadily gaining recognition as a sustainable model for social and economic development in developing and low-income nations. He has traveled throughout the world promoting this panacea for social development that gives the rural poor fertile land and then gives them the appropriate tools to successfully run and realize their economic potential. Datuk Faizoull thoroughly believes that “this model can help developing and low-income nations that are looking to increase their economic output and strengthen their social structure” by giving the settlers a share in the country’s agricultural development. The future of FELDA has not only goals for Malaysia, but global ambitions. Datuk Faizoull talks with pride about “the new vision of FELDA after 50 years which to be an Economic Powerhouse… that we will accomplish in 2020 is that this group of settlers will become a high-income group, and the future goal is we will build 20 FELDA settlements globally.”