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us apple developer accounts for sale:Labour shortage in plantations needs attention


High cost: A worker arranging palm oil fruit bunches in Tanjung Karang. The shortage of workers will lead to a productivity loss if left unchecked. ─ Reuters PETALING JAYA: The shortage of workers in the plantation sector has taken a turn for the worse, almost doubling to about 70,000 so far this year from 36,000 last year, says the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA). Its chief executive officer Datuk Nageeb Wahab (pic below) said: “The acute shortage in the estates is now felt across the board, from big plantation companies to the smallholders.” Despite the oil palm sector being allowed to operate as normal during the MCO 2.0 period, he claimed that “planters are not able to fully exploit the current high crude palm oil (CPO) price trading above RM3,300 per tonne, which is at a decade-high. “This is because they cannot fully-optimise production in the estates, given the severe lack of palm fruit harvesters, who are mostly foreign workers.” Nageeb told StarBiz that the average production loss in the estates is estimated at about 20% from the current labour shortage. Of the 36,000 worker shortage last year, 31,000 represented palm fruit harvesters. According to Nageeb, the current freeze on recruitment of foreign workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic with no new replacements has put the local plantation sector in a very tight spot. During the first movement control order (MCO), the government had allowed the foreign workers to go back to their home countries, mainly, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The labour-intensive plantation sector has been registering a steady net outflow of foreign workers over the last nine months – as and when their employment contracts expire, with many also choosing not to extend. Fortunately, the oil palm estates here are slowly entering into the low production season, so planters are still able to keep the worker-shortage problem under control, Nageeb pointed out, However, if workers are not sufficiently replenished during the peak production season by the middle of this year, Nageeb warned that this may result in a major production loss with overall yields coming in below their potential. The Malaysian Agricultural Producers Association (Mapa) recently pegged the loss of productivity at over RM16bil per year if the severe shortage of workers continues. Of the six million ha of planted oil palm area in Malaysia, about 5.2 million ha are mature and 700,000ha-800,000ha are immature areas. In recent years, more plantation companies have accelerated their replanting exercise with higher-yielding material, resulting in the need for more workers as well as maintaining the harvesters’ workforce. The current acute labour shortage has resulted in planters having to extend the harvesting rounds to a 20-day interval compared with the usual 10 to 12-day intervals, or 2.5 to three rounds of harvesting per month. Industry experts have also estimated that the local palm oil sector could suffer some six million tonnes of CPO losses this year due to the prolonged labour shortage. This could also translate into some RM9bil losses in revenue for the plantation sector should the shortage be left unchecked by year-end.

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