Farmer suffering big losses due to lack of workers


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 08 Mar 2005

BY TEH ENG HOCK

KUALA SELANGOR: Amir Zaki Rathi Ishak is in two minds about rehiring illegal workers for his father’s farm here.  

The current shortage of workers has affected the farm.  

He estimated that he had a loss of RM100,000 in spoilt crops in recent months. 

Apart from 6.5ha used to plant oil palms and vegetables, he has 50 cows and 10 goats to tend to but only two workers left. 

“There are a lot of illegal workers who want to work but we don’t dare hire them,” he said, adding that it might take the rest of the year to recoup the losses.  

MORE HANDS NEEDED: Amir Zaki showing a vegetable plant that had been attacked by insects at his father’s farm in KualaSelangor yesterday. He said there were not enough workers to look after the whole farm.

Amir Zaki’s predicament started when his illegal workers returned to Indonesia to obtain the proper paperwork during the amnesty period. 

Three left in December and two on Feb 15, leaving him with two full-time workers. 

“To run the whole place efficiently, I need 15 workers,” Amir Zaki said, adding that hiring locals would mean paying twice the amount in wages. 

Amir Zaki, 33, who has worked the farm for 14 years, said a lot of manpower was needed to run the farm. 

His father, Mohd Rathi Ishak, 48, said he had made many enquiries at the Home Ministry and the Immigration department about the status of his workers. 

“I’ve been to the Home Ministry six times since February but have not made any headway. 

“Now my workers are stuck in Dumai and I don’t know when I can get them back,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the hot weather and worker shortage have affected vegetable growers nationwide. 

Federation of Vegetable Farmers’ Association of Malaysia executive secretary Chan Loy Onn said even the Johor growers were sourcing vegetables from the central region. 

“Production has decreased and there are not enough vegetables because of the continuing hot weather. 

“The lack of workers also means the problem will continue as farmers have to work the fields themselves causing productivity to decrease,” he said. 

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