Oil Palm Industry Economic Journal Vol. 11 (2) September 2011 p. 1-12

Labour Requirements in the Malaysian Oil Palm Industry in 2010

Ramli Abdullah; Azman Ismail and Ayatollah Khomeini A Rahman
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Malaysian oil palm industry is labour intensive especially in the oil palm plantations. This article estimated the total number of workforce in the Malaysian oil palm plantations in 2010 by carrying out a census in all the plantations. It is estimated that there were 446 368 workers in 2010. This number consists of mainly foreigners of about 69% and locals of about 31%. The small number of local participation indicates their lack of interest to work in the industry and this urged the industry to resort to employing foreigners. Foreign workers worked for various critical jobs which are labour intensive, particularly field jobs such as harvesting and collecting fruits, weeding work and other general work. Majority of them are Indonesians, in addition to other nationalities such as Bangladeshi, Thais, Myanmars, etc. The labour land ratio is 1:9.95 which means that one worker can cover about 10 ha. The study also shows that oil palm plantations in Sarawak and in Peninsular Malaysia appeared to face critical shortage of labour as compared to Sabah. As an ideal situation, the oil palm plantations as a whole would require a total of 493 512 workers for the 4.19 million hectares of planted areas under oil palm in 2010.

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