Oil palm growers appeal for lifting of foreign worker freeze


  • Business
  • Monday, 04 Apr 2016

An Indonesian worker sits beside palm oil fruits on a lorry at Felda Bukit Cerakah in the district of Klang, outside Kuala Lumpur in this April 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Samsul Said/Files

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) has appealed to the Government to lift the freeze on the recruitment of foreign workers to maximise productivity during the forthcoming peak crop and into the second half of the year.

The association, on behalf of all growers including more than 300,000 small holders, said in a statement that it was thankful that the proposed workers’ levy of RM1,500 had been revised to RM640 per worker.

“Under the current adverse and prolonged weather conditions (severe drought) leading to low production and high costs, this gesture from the Government was a very welcome relief to all the nation’s oil palm growers.”

It said palm growers were looking forward to the immediate unfreezing on the recruitment of foreign workers and eager to quickly get into the oil palm fields to cope with the backlogs. 

“Delays in harvesting and field upkeep are among the reasons for the industry’s inability to raise fresh fruit bunch yields and enhance oil extraction rates. 

“Growers have faced a long spell of low prices and productivity and the current scenario of slightly improved prices have given them some hope to recover, but not without adequate resources of workers,” it said.

MPOA’s appeal follows hot on the heels of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association’s (Margma) plea last Friday which also asked for the lifting of the freeze on foreign workers intake.

Margma noted that the industry needed to keep on growing if the country wanted to stay as the world’s largest producer of medical and surgical gloves globally.

Malaysia has about 106 manufacturing plants that produced some 120 billion pieces of medical gloves with an export value of RM13.1bil last year. 

Margma said the volume was expected to grow by 15% this year to hit 138 billion pieces.
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