KENINGAU, Malaysia - A commercial rubber plantation project, covering 35,000ha in far-flung Sook, 75km from here, is expected to generate 8,750 jobs.
Developed by Bornion Timber Sdn Bhd, 11,000ha had already been planted, with 200ha ready to be tapped.
Launching the tapping of the mature rubber trees, state Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said locals in the area would be given priority to work in the plantation.
"The project will go a long way towards improving the livelihood of the local community."
Citing the project as an example, Dompok said the government's efforts to cultivate forest plantations had started to yield results.
As at April, about 60,000ha of the 103,700ha, approved for forest plantation projects, had been planted with various species of selected trees, including rubber.
The Malaysian Timber Industry Board, through its subsidiary Forest Plantation Development Sdn Bhd (FPDSB), had to date given out loans amounting to more than RM608 million to 47 individuals involved in forest plantations.
Bornion Timber is among some of the companies that has benefited from the FPDSB loan scheme.
The company's rubber plantation is within the sustainable forest management area awarded to it by the state government in 1997.
Dompok said under the FPDSB loan scheme, 40,000ha approved for forest plantations were in the peninsula, 37,000ha in Sarawak and 26,000ha in Sabah.
"About 54 per cent of the approved forest plantation areas have been planted with high-yielding rubber trees."