Malaysia to raise palm oil output after hiring more foreign workers


“Malaysia will be able to supply more palm oil (to overseas markets) when the labour shortage is addressed. We plan to bring in 32,000 more foreign workers. Applications from employers are being processed,” Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin told Bernama.

NEW DELHI: Malaysia will increase its palm oil production this year following a 5% decline last year due to a pandemic-induced labour shortage with the intake of more foreign workers.

Thousands of new plantation workers will be being hired from Bangladesh, India and Indonesia to make up for the shortfall as demand for Malaysian palm oil continues to grow.

“Malaysia will be able to supply more palm oil (to overseas markets) when the labour shortage is addressed. We plan to bring in 32,000 more foreign workers.

“Applications from employers are being processed,” Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin told Bernama.

The minister arrived in India on Sunday for a four-day visit to promote agriculture exports.

Malaysia’s palm oil production dropped to 18.1 million tonnes last year from 19.1 million tonnes in 2020 as Covid-19 border controls disrupted labour recruitment.

In her discussions on Monday with Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, Zuraida said the improved demand for foreign workers in Malaysia’s plantation industries.

“My meeting (with Muraleedharan) was about making long-term arrangements for labour supply in the plantation sector,” she said.

They discussed signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries in this regard.

At the same time, Malaysia is working on mechanisation in the plantation industry to reduce its dependence on foreign workforce.

A RM60mil project in collaboration with the Mechanisation and Automation Research Consortium of Oil Palm was approved last year to deliver automation solutions within three to five years.

Commenting on commodities trade with India, Zuraida said there is scope for Indian and Malaysian companies to set up joint ventures for palm oil-based downstream products.

India bought about 3.6 million tonnes of palm oil last year, representing an increase of 31% over the volumes in 2020.

Zuraida said while India is expected to buy more Malaysian palm oil to meet domestic consumption demand, companies from the two countries can diversify trade linkages with collaboration in technology and new products for the wider regional market.

Addressing representatives of Indian trade associations and companies, the minister invited them to participate in the Malaysia International Agri-Commodity Exhibition and Seminars being organised in Kuala Lumpur in June and to explore specific areas of business projects with their Malaysian counterparts.

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