Razak (second from left) looking at the agricultural produce grown by Felda settlers in Segitiga Jengka, Pahang, in February 1972.

WITHOUT a doubt, the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) is a government agency that is synonymous with the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who was instrumental in the formation of the world’s largest oil palm plantation scheme.

The second prime minister of Malaysia was the driving force behind the agency’s formation, which had transformed itself from humble beginnings into the world’s largest palm oil producer.

Razak (right) welcoming a Felda settler (left) from Penang in Kuala Lumpur. The man and his family were resettled in Temerloh, Pahang.

Felda was established on July 1, 1956, under the Land Development Ordinance of 1956, for the development of land and relocation to eradicate poverty through the cultivation of oil palm and rubber.

Its growth is not merely the story of social development, it is a journey of Malaysia’s transformation into a high-income nation — a vision that it intends to achieve by 2020.

During its 59 years of existence, it has evolved into a global agricultural corporation.

Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein visiting a house in the first Felda settlement in Lurah Bilut, Pahang, in 1958.

The early settlers can certainly be very proud of their achievements today. The relentless efforts of 400 pioneers, who cleared the dense forests in Lurah Bilut, Pahang, in 1958 to plant rubber, paved the way for Felda to grow into what it is today, with operations in more than 10 countries.

The pioneering efforts blazed the trail for a national programme that changed the lives of 112,635 families and created opportunities for Malaysians spanning across five generations.

Felda schemes, which include education, health and entrepreneurship programmes, have been effective in improving the living standard of the poorest group of people.

Today, they are an integral part of a leading international brand of agriculture commodities.

Razak (centre) touring the first Felda settlement in Lurah Bilut, Pahang, in 1958.

As an important mechanism for the eradication of poverty, Felda, through its land development programmes, successfully reduced the country’s poverty rate from 49 per cent in 1970, to a mere 3.6 per cent in 2007.

Felda and its settlers own one-sixth of the total land in oil palm plantations nationwide. They are major contributors to the gross national income (GNI).

Besides palm oil and rubber, Felda has diversified its interests in other businesses, such as manufacturing, hospitality and properties.

In June 2012, Felda added another feather to its cap with the listing of its commercial arm, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), on Bursa Malaysia.

Today, FGV is the largest palm oil producer with a land bank of more than 450,000 hectares.

The public issuance of FGV shares, the second largest initial public offering in the world at that time, generated RM10.4 billion from investors.

Employees of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd giving the thumbs up beside a screen after the company’s listing on the main board of Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur on June 28, 2012.

With that, FGV did not only reinforce its upstream palm oil production, but also downstream products had like oleochemicals, biodiesel and consumer goods.

It has expanded into other industries, including sugar, rubber, biotechnology research, and trade marketing and logistics.

FGV has more than 19,000 employees under approximately 80 subsidiaries. In 2013, it produced 3.2 million tonnes of palm oil, comprising approximately 16.7 per cent of Malaysia’s, and 5.7 per cent of the world’s, production.

It has become a leader in palm oil research and development, and FGV will continue to create a positive impact in contributing to Malaysia’s wellbeing.

FGV workers harvesting oil palm fruits at a plantation in May 2014.

Malaysians can be proud of what Felda has achieved since its inception. Starting off as a government agency responsible for uplifting the economic status of the poor, Felda is now a global name in the palm oil industry.

Felda’s development and diversification of its businesses is a continuous effort in generating new revenues for the benefit of its settlers and the future generation.