Sarawak premier tells oil palm planters mechanised harvesting can solve labour shortage

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUCHING, Sept 5 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg today urged the oil palm plantation sector to look at mechanisation, particularly at harvesting, to overcome the labour shortage.

He said the plantation sector has been requesting the state government to allow many foreign labourers to work in Sarawak.

“The shortage of labour in the plantation sector has been an inherent issue and perhaps at this juncture, it should look into the use of machines to harvest their oil palm fruits,” he told reporters after the opening of the East Malaysia Palm and Lauric Oils Price Outlook Conference and Exhibition here.

He said he has requested Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak campus, and the private sector to do a research on the sensor that can distinguish the ripe and unripe fruits.

“I think the plantation sector has to go into this research so that we don’t have to rely too heavily on foreign labour,” the premier said.

Abang Johari said the state is committed to repurposing oil palm solid waste from sustainably certified areas as a potential source of biofuel for energy generation.

“Considering the large areas of oil palm in Sarawak, this energy source deserves consideration instead of treating the oil palm waste as mere waste to be discarded at the expense of the environment,” he said.

He said he believes that optimisation value of waste in the concept of waste-to-energy is central to the success of Sarawak’s new economy as it can give rise to new industries and thus new job opportunities for the people.

“In addition, Sarawak is also looking at turning oil palm waste into animal feed, and also fertiliser, to reduce the state’s dependence on imports,” he said.

He added that the ministry has seen the state’s potential of producing up to 100,000 metric tonnes of animal feed per year from oil palm waste.