PETALING JAYA, Aug 24 — The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) is currently working on a proposal to incentivise Malaysians, especially the youths, to join the plantation industry — a move that will help to reduce the country’s dependency on foreign labour, chairman Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub said.
He said the board plans to provide the incentives to students enrolled at the Malaysian Palm Oil Training Centre (Plasma).
“Maybe Malaysians assume that the minimum wage in the country is still small, thus they are not that interested to take part in the industry.
“This is why Malaysia, being the world’s second largest oil palm producer, has to rely on foreign workers,” he said during his visit to Orion Biosains Sdn Bhd’s laboratory here today.
Currently, workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh account for about 70 per cent of the local plantation industry’s manpower.
“An action plan must be established so that Malaysia can reduce its dependency on foreign labour without resulting in a drastic contraction in the sector,” Ahmad Jazlan said.
Meanwhile, MPOB said through its collaboration with Orion Biosains, it has successfully applied the SureSawit deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-based screening technology to trace low-yielding non-tenera palms before the seeds are planted.
The innovation allows for early identification of high-yielding tenera (thin shell) palms, which produce more oil than dura (thick shell) palms.
“Previously, planters would only be able to ascertain the type of seeds they planted — whether they were tenera or dura — after five years, but now, they can identify the type within 24-hours.
“This will benefit not only the smallholders, but also the nation’s economy,” he said.
As Malaysia plans to cap the country’s oil palm plantation areas to about 6.5 million hectares by 2023, it is crucial to ensure that only high yield seeds are cultivated.