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Oil Palm Plantations: Malaysia Awaits Consideration from Source Countries for Foreign Workers

Foreign worker in palm oil plantation

Malaysia is now awaiting consideration from source countries, namely Indonesia, in relation to the mechanism to bring in foreign workers for the oil palm plantation sector, said the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC).

Deputy Minister I Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng said, based on discussions with the Indonesian government recently, the ministry found that the republic is still considering to send its workers to Malaysia even though it had previously agreed to do so.

Indonesia's priority is to finalize the memorandum of understanding on the recruitment and protection of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia. - Wee Jeck Seng

"That's what I said, that we depend on foreign workers but also depend on source countries which have agreements to send their workers to our country," he told the Dewan Rakyat on Dec 7.

Wee was replying to a supplementary question from Nga Kor Ming (PH-Teluk Intan) on the shortage of foreign workers who were brought in for the palm plantation sector.

Wee added that this obstacle was not only a loss to the palm industry but also to government revenue.

He hoped the process of foreign workers’ entry into palm plantation could be expedited to address this loss faced by the sector.

Answering a question from Nga on the estimated loss due to the shortage of workers in harvesting and collection of fresh fruit bunches (FFB), Wee said the shortage of workers in these activities amounted to 25,471 as of August 2021.

"With the average productivity for harvester and collector of two tons of FFB per day per worker, the total FFB that cannot be harvested amounted to 50,942 (tones) per day.

"Taking into account working days of 26 days a month, the estimated FFB that cannot be harvested totaled 1.3 million tons per month, equivalent to 15.9 million tons per year," he said.

He said at the average price of crude palm oil of RM4, 555 per ton, the loss due to the shortage of employment in August 2021 would amount to RM14 billion per year.

The estimated loss increased 56% and more than 100% compared with 2020 and 2019, whereby loss from the shortage of employment for these years were estimated at RM9 billion and RM6 billion respectively.

Previously, MPIC Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said Malaysia would receive 32,000 foreign workers in the palm plantation sector in October this year.


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