LAHAD DATU: The government is always looking for ways to attract local people to the plantation sector which is currently using 77 per cent foreign workers.
Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur said the Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) statistics showed that up to May this year, there were 428,000 workers in the oil palm sector in Malaysia.
Of the number, 328,400 of them are foreign workers as the locals are less interested in joining the plantation sector even though it provides a wide range of job opportunities.
“High dependency on foreign workers creates risk to the country’s oil palm industry, especially when they are no longer interested working in Malaysia or there is a change in policy of their country.
“The influx of foreign workers may also contribute to social problems which can cause problems to the country,” said Nasrun when officiating the roadshow on the Need of Skills Training in Strengthening Human Capital in the Oil Palm Sector and the launching of the One Commodities Service Centre (1CSC) in Lahad Datu.
According to Nasrun, who is also the Silam member of parliament, the government through agencies such as MPOB took the initiative to set up the Malaysia Palm Oil Training Centre (PLASMA) to reduce dependency on foreign workers.
He said that until now, 2,500 people have been trained through PLASMA in Keratong, Pahang and over 75% have entered the plantation sector, especially those involving the handling of machinery.
“With the involvement of Institute of Malaysian Plantation and Commodities (IMPAC) and PLASMA, as the centre of providing skill training in the oil palm plantation sector, the level of machinery utilization will be increased and thereby reducing dependence on foreign workers,” he said.
In the meantime, Nasrun said the government had allocated a total of RM4.5 million under the 11th Malaysia Plan to assist the plantation sector to purchase machinery with a subsidy of up to 20%.
He said that these are among the government’s initiatives to increase the productivity of the country’s oil palm plantation sector by offering machinery incentive as the usage of machinery will increase the income of plantation operators and smallholders.
Meanwhile, speaking on the launching of 1CSC, Nasrun said this centre will provide various services in relation to the commodities sector such as basic advice on all commodities.
It will also assist in license and incentive applications and assistance, training applications, and commodities sector complaint.