Palm oil exports rose 21 per cent to RM19 billion in the first four
months of this year against exports of RM15 billion registered in the
corresponding period last year, said Plantation Industries and
Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin.
He said realising its importance as a leading revenue earner for
Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had placed the
industry under the National Key Results Areas.
However, he pointed out that the industry was over dependent on
foreign labour as 80 per cent of the 200,000 workers employed in oil
palm plantations were harvesters.
“Locals are reluctant to work in oil palm plantations and this has
led to the influx of foreign workers.
“The government is aware of the dilema but industry players themselves
should assume the responsibility to address the problem,” he said,
adding that large plantation companies should turn to mechanisation to
reduce their dependence on foreign labour.
Speaking at the launch of a motorised harvester, the Cantas Mark III
in Sandakan today, Hamzah said land under oil palm cultivation had
reached 4.7 million hectares and a large workforce was required to man
The Cantas Mark III, jointly developed by the Malaysian Palm Oil
Board and Fancy Power Sdn Bhd, is an updated version of the motorised
harvester which was first commercialised in 2007.
Hamzah said large oil palm plantations should consider the extensive
use of the petrol fuelled harvester which retailed for RM2,500 each.
Expressing disappointment over the fact that only 559 such machines
were used todate, he said the Cantas Mark III can address the severe
labour shortage faced in oil palm plantations. — Bernama