Oil Palm Industry Economic Journal Vol. 13 (2) September 2013 p. 15-26

The Effect of Labour Shortage in the Supply and Demand of Palm Oil in Malaysia

Azman Ismail*
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The Malaysian palm oil industry plays an important role in the agricultural development of the country and contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), foreign exchange and creation of employment opportunities. On average, the industry contributes 5% to 7% of GDP and for the last five years the industry has contributed on average about RM 65.3 billion per year to export revenue. The Malaysian palm oil industry, especially the oil palm plantation sector offers various job opportunities as the sector is highly dependent on manual labour. However, a minimal involvement of the locals (due to the 3D perception – dangerous, dirty and difficult) has provided avenues for foreign workers to work in the plantation sector. In 2012, it was estimated that there were 505 972 employees in the oil palm plantation sector. Out of the total, 386 913 or 76.5% were foreigners. Foreign workers were employed mainly in high labour demand operations such as harvesting, field work and other general work. These days, the main issue in oil palm plantation sector is labour shortage problem especially for fresh fruit bunch (FFB) harvesting and collection. The difficulty of employing local as well as foreign workers especially from Indonesia has caused the oil palm plantation sector to face a labour shortage particularly for FFB harvesting and collection. This situation has affected the supply of palm oil in the domestic as well as world markets.

About Post Author


* Malaysian Palm Oil Board,
6 Persiaran Institusi, Bandar Baru Bangi,
43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia.
E-mail: azman@mpob.gov.my