Malaysia will be able to take full advantage of the use of drone technology in the palm oil sector within the next three years, said Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.
She said drones equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) to identify ripe fruits and capable of transporting fruit bunches would be used.
"If this can be implemented, young people will definitely be interested in working in the palm oil industry, thereby increasing local workers.
"This will also ensure that foreign workers will remain (in the industry) which is more sustainable," she said when winding up the Committee-level debate on the Supply Bill 2022 in Parliament on Nov 24.
The ministry has also proposed the use of government-to-government mechanisms so that the recruitment of foreign workers and agents, incentives and salaries to be provided can be made transparent with the country of labor resources to ensure the country remains competitive.
“This will be implemented as a long-term plan because we want to ensure we sustain the supply of foreign workers for the period of three to five years in order to maintain our market, so that we do not lose our market share to China, Indonesia and other countries," she explained.
The Palm Oil Mechanization and Automation Research Consortium (MARCOP) was also established recently to enhance research and development activities on oil palm plantation automation with an emphasis on applications such as drones, robots and sensors for integrated and systematic operations.
A total of RM60 million has been allocated for research and development activities so far.