KUALA LUMPUR: The average income of rubber smallholders has increased to RM436 per month as of May, marking a 40% rise due to the implementation of the agrofood initiative by the Rubber Industry Smallholder Development Authority (Risda).

The Rural and Regional Development Ministry, in its written reply published on the Parliament website, said that the income of rubber smallholders was RM238 per month per participant in December last year.

The ministry emphasised its commitment to achieving the target of increasing the average income of agrofood programme participants to RM500 per month by the end of 2025.

To facilitate this, the ministry, through Risda, provides basic entrepreneurship and technical skills training, covering business and accounting management through various short-term courses and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) courses.

It was responding to a question from Wan Hassan Mohd Ramli (PN-Dungun), who asked about the latest average income increase among smallholders resulting from the Risda agrofood programme and the ministry’s plans to meet the RM500 per month target by 2025.

The ministry also noted that this year, a total of RM2mil has been allocated to provide guidance to nearly 1,000 participants of the agrofood programme nationwide.

“As of May 2024, a total of 14 series of short-term and TVET courses have been implemented, with the remaining 30 series of courses scheduled to be completed by November,” the ministry said.

In response to Rodziah Ismail’s (PH-Ampang) inquiry about the significance of establishing the Madani Village Development Committee, the ministry clarified that the committee in Sabah and several states in the peninsula aims to avoid duplication of efforts and costs and to prevent confusion among the community.

“The establishment of the committees aims to assist the ministry in advancing rural community development efforts. It will collaborate closely with the Community Development Department (Kemas) and any non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to act as agents of change, coordinating various socio-economic development activities or programs aimed at eradicating hardcore poverty in rural communities.

“Therefore, the ministry’s establishment of such committees will complement the existing implementation of the Village Development and Security Committee in relevant states,” the ministry said. – Bernama