KUALA LUMPUR: The arrival of foreign workers must be hastened to address the labour shortage in oil palm plantations, says the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC).
MPC director-general Abdul Latif Abu Seman said the arrival of 32,000 foreign field workers from Indonesia must be accelerated.
He said there was a shortage of workers to carry out harvesting work in the plantations following the closure of borders during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the shortage of harvesters among foreign workers saw the oil palm plantation sector incurring losses of RM21 billion in 2021.
These losses are expected to increase to RM28 billion this year if these foreign workers are not brought in immediately.
Additionally, the sector saw a decline in exports of 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021 due to the shortage of local and foreign workers.
Latif suggested that the process of hiring foreign workers be fully digitalised to avoid any human interference.
For the long term, he urged the government and plantation owners to continue funding the reskilling and upskilling programme for local workers.