UNIVERSITI Putra Malaysia (UPM) has created a device that promises to increase oil palm yields by removing the branches covering the fruits.
“This makes it easier to harvest the fruits.
“With a more efficient harvesting device, we can also lessen our dependence on foreign labour,” said Higher Education Minister Datul Seri Idris Jusoh.
“We (the government) will ensure that the rakyat’s needs are always taken care of,” he said during the launch of the device in Felda Sg Tengi Selatan, Selangor, on Thursday.
He added that with the E-cutter, Felda settlers could earn more as their productivity would increase.
UPM Faculty of Engineering Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Prof Dr Norhisam Misron said the machine could improve harvest yields by 50% within the same amount of time per labourer.
Prof Norhisam led the team that developed the E-cutter at the university.
He also said it would now take about three seconds to cut an oil palm branch and expose the fruits for harvesting.
“We are starting (to use the device) in Felda Sg Tengi Selatan but plan to introduce it to other Felda (plantations) in the future,” he said.
“It is important that the community gets to use the research products we develop.
“For this initiative, the ministry helped us a lot” Prof Norhisam added.
He said the E-cutter was powered by an electric generator, lighter and more compact than the conventional mechanical cutters used currently.
It could extend up to 10m but the conventional cutter could only reach up to five meters, added Prof Norhisam.
The E-cutter which took about five years to develop is expected to cost between RM2,000 and RM3,000.
During the launch, Idris handed out 10 units of the E-cutter to the Felda settlers. A total of 1,000 units would be given to Felda plantation owners. he said.
Based on the Felda settlers’ feedback, the device would be improved before the rest were distributed, Idris added.
At the same event, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan launched Smart Money Kits (Kit Bijak Wang) for 11 schools in the Hulu Selangor Felda zones.
The kit, also designed by UPM, was to provide parents and teachers with an alternative way of teaching children financial literacy, added Kamalanathan. — By REBECCA RAJAENDRAM
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