It is Time for Pahang State to Start Consultation with Durian King Farmers in Raub

SUARAM is in solidarity with the farmers of Durian King durian in Raub; who are trying their best to resolve their land rights problem by diplomatic ways. On 28/10/2020, the Kuantan High Court will decide if a leave could be granted for the judicial review on Pahang State Government’s decision to allocate few thousand acres to PKPP (Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang) and RPDR (Royal Pahang Durian Resources). 111 durian farmers had named Raub District Land Office, Forestry Department, Pahang Government, PKPP (Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang) and RPDR (Royal Pahang Durian Resource) as respondents.

The durian farms are focused in mainly three places in Raub; Sg Ruan, Sg Klau and Sg Chalit. They claimed to have been trying hard to get their durian farms legalised. The effort can be tracked back to 1970s when some of them had applied for land rights to the Raub Land & District Office. Most of their applications went unanswered or rejected without a proper reason. Some Chinese families who were brought in to work in the logging industry in Raub, stayed back to work on the land that was cleared for the industry. Farmers planted crops on these barren land as a mean of survival for their family. The SJKC Sg Klau school was started in 1964 to cater the need of growing Chinese community in the area at that point of time. Even Bank Pertanian extended their financial loans to help the farmers in 1986.

Apart from this, some Malay durian farmers were promised land rights when they participated in the LKPP’s (Lembaga Kemajuan Perusahaan Pertanian) project in RPS Sg Chalit in 1970s. The participants were promised 2 acre per family with land title. Even though the farmers are still utilising their farming lands, but the land title never materialised.

Looking back at the crops harvested by these farmers for past decades, it was not Musang King all the while. Some even started with ‘padi bukit’ in 1960s. Then the farmers claimed to have cocoa, rubber tree, oil palm, D24 durian and, finally arriving at Musang King about 10 years ago.

Musang King has been a lucrative business for the past decade in Raub, not only for the farmers but also to middleman and exporters. For the farmers, a kilogram of Musang King durian can fetch up to RM 38 during the season and RM 58 during off-season. Therefore, it is not surprising that some
parties intend to get involved by a bizarre profit-making mechanism to take a big chunk of the profit. For the farmers, the Musang King durian farming is a skill which had been perfected by decades and they are not willing to share their profit with private money-making entities.

The Pahang state government should be playing a better role in this by providing a venue for consultation with the farmers, rather than being autocratic. Durian King farmers are willing to pay higher taxes for their land and harvest to the state. Recently the farmers established Raub Musang King Farmers’ Cooperative Preparatory Committee which outlined several principles as the basis for negotiation with the state. Even though some principles are debatable, the farmers had included two principles which are:

 higher tax for the land and subsequently legalising the farming land and,
 environment protection levy for monitoring deforestation.

SUARAM demands the Pahang State Government to:

  1. Establish a committee at State level to start the consultation process with the farmers
  2. Suspend the allocation of thousands of hectares of the so called ‘illegal’ farmers’ land to
    PKPP-RPDR until the State committee above resolves its discussion with the farmers