Felda ‘nation’ – Tapping into huge marketing, economic opportunities, says chairman

Felda ‘nation’ – Tapping into huge marketing, economic opportunities, says chairman
"Felda ‘nation’ – Tapping into huge marketing, economic opportunities, says chairman"

The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) staff at Menara Felda in the heart of Kuala Lumpur have been kept busy in recent weeks. In addition to their daily grind, they are preparing for the upcoming Hari Peneroka Felda 2024, which will be celebrated in grand fashion, like never before.

The event, known as Karnival Segalanya Felda, scheduled on July 12-14 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), is not just about celebrating Felda settlers. As the name suggests, it is a carnival to showcase its prized assets – the settlers – and what they offer.

“The carnival is about unleashing the potential of Felda on a bigger perspective,” said Felda chairman, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek when met at his office on the 49th floor at Menara Felda recently.

“We often hear conversations about oil palm, rubber, or even the settlers, when it comes to Felda. It’s not just about the 112,638 settlers we have, but the citizens of Felda who are now in their fifth generation. Based on a simple calculation, that’s three million people who are a part of Felda. That’s a nation in itself!” he exclaimed.

Ahmad Shabery is a huge fan of numbers. Having a background in economics, he values the impact of large numbers, evident during his time as Malaysia’s Youth and Sports, and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry minister.

As Youth and Sports minister, he organised a youth festival in Putrajaya like no other, with record-breaking attendance. And while in the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, Ahmad Shabery oversaw the 2016 Malaysia Agriculture Horticulture and Agrotourism exhibition at MAEPS that attracted four million visitors, with sales and signings for agricultural produce hitting a whopping RM380 million.

Ahmad Shabery said there were many opportunities to explore within the 317 project Felda settlements nationwide.

“In each Felda settlement, you can see various enterprises flourishing, from people selling kuih (traditional delicacies) to setting up a bridal boutique. There are also motorcycle garages, while the homestays are thriving. There are so many new opportunities to do business in these areas, and the best part is that they are all expanding,” he said.

Ahmad Shabery gave an example of how every settlement should set up at least one food stall and present a signature dish at the upcoming carnival.

“Even if we have 317 stalls, each selling a settlement’s unique dish, that’s big enough for a Felda food festival. So, you now see the different offerings by Felda. It’s about building a bigger eco-system and branding it.

“The food festival is just one example. We also have Feel Da Starz, a talent competition. And I’m amazed by the talents we have across the Felda settlements,” he said, while showing a video of a contestant singing American rock star Jon Bon Jovi’s hit, ‘It’s My Life’.

"These are massive branding and marketing opportunities for brands."

Numerous programmes have been lined up across 12 fields, better known as clusters among the secretariat of the event, during the carnival. They range from education, to job opportunities, and an FGV festival.

FGV Holdings Bhd, a subsidiary of Felda, produces products from oil palm, rubber, oleochemicals, and sugar, using materials sourced from the settlements. Felda also owns properties in Malaysia and abroad, including Felda House, a stylish and contemporary student accommodation located in the heart of Wembley, United Kingdom, and Tenera Hotel in Bangi, Selangor.

“So you see, we have many businesses in various sectors. So, this translates into various opportunities. Now we are expecting 500,000 people to be a part of our carnival. That’s a great place for businesses, big or small, to showcase their products and be affiliated with us.

“We’ve got good partners, corporate companies who have pledged their support. Thanks to them, we don’t need to touch much money from Felda as every initiative is sponsored. I didn’t want companies to look at this from a CSR (corporate social responsibility) point of view. I wanted them to invest in Felda, in what we do. This is business.

“And we want this business to eventually benefit warga Felda (the people of Felda). It boils down to uplifting the economic well-being of our prized assets,” he added.

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