Thursday January 3, 2013
Fishermen reaping profits from activities after forming cooperative
KUAH (Langkawi): There was a time when fishermen of Kampung Kilim had to depend solely on the sea to make ends meet.
To ensure that younger generations had a better future, the fishermen decided to start a business.
In August 2010, 80 fishermen established Koperasi Komuniti Kampung Kilim Langkawi Berhad to manage tour boats going around Kilim Geoforest Park and nearby areas as their first business undertaking.
Its chairman Ahmad Nizar Hanapiah said efforts to develop the village began in 2000, with the establishment of the Fisheries Resources Management Community (KPSP).
Through KPSP, the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) managed the Kilim Jetty and collected rent.
In 2008, they set up an enterprise but Lada advised them to establish a cooperative instead to create more business opportunities.
“In 2010, a cooperative was established with 80 fishermen. We started operations on Jan 1, 2011. We were keen on improving the livelihood of locals,” he said.
Initially, the cooperative began with three boats, which then expanded to 80.
The boats would transport tourists to mangrove areas including Gua Kelawar and to activities like feeding the eagles.
“The feedback has been positive. During the school holidays, 80 boats are not enough. There was a time when we had to make 300 trips,” he said, adding that close to 20,000 people visit Kampung Kilim alone.
Boats are available for up to four hours. The minimum duration is one hour while the cost of hiring a boat is between RM200 and RM500.
Before the cooperative was established, the fishermen could only earn between RM600 and RM800 per month.
However, by providing tour boat services, they can earn up to RM1,800 per month.
Cooperative members who own boats can earn at least RM2,000 and up to RM10,000 during the holiday season.
Ahmad Nizar noted that the cooperative had extended its business activities to include floating restaurants, which offer fresh seafood.
Cooperative members also operate souvenir shops.
The cooperative has created many employment opportunities for youths in the village, where 1,700 people reside.
“There are no unemployed youngsters in the village. Many of them are not highly educated, but have learnt English by participating in tour boat activities. There are some youths who can converse in Arabic due to the rising number of Arab visitors,” he said, adding that villagers participating in tourism-related activities also undergo courses organised by the Tourism Ministry.
As tourism activities are moving into high gear here, the cooperative wants to see more participation.
“We want to expand further. We are in the midst of acquiring 0.2ha of land to provide accommodation for visitors. We are keen on opening a supermarket too,” he said.
Ahmad Nizar said the success of the cooperative is dependent on Government’s assistance.
With the help of government agencies including Lada, the Cooperative Commission of Malaysia, the Fisheries Department and the Fisheries Development Authority, the cooperative can be developed further.
“We do not have experts in our cooperative and we cannot afford to employ an expert. Therefore, we have to depend on relevant parties,” he said. — Bernama