This study attempts to measure oil palm labour productivity based on land-labour ratio by job category, region and estate size; and based on output-labour ratio by job category and region. It culminates by suggesting action plans for improving labour productivity and reducing labour requirement. Primary data collected through an online survey were used in the study, while the calculation of labour productivity was done using Microsoft Office Excel and SPSS. From the study, it was found that the ideal land-labour ratio for oil palm plantations in Malaysia is 10:1. Currently, the ratio set by the government for oil palm estates hiring foreign workers is 8:1 (i.e. 8 ha to one worker). To reduce the number of foreign workers in oil palm plantations, the current ratio needs to be increased from 8:1 to 10:1. To increase labour productivity, it is suggested that estate owners practise mechanisation, especially for harvesting (when palm height is less than 8 m) and in-field collection of fresh fruit bunches (FFB). By using a motorised cutter for harvesting, productivity per worker can be increased from 0.99 t per day to 2.24 t per day. For in-field collection, a mechanised FFB transport system (MFTS) can reduce the required number of workers and lower the cost of transportation as well as cost of production.
Keywords: labour, productivity, land-labour ration, output-labour ratio, mechanisation