Plantation works offer lucrative income although it is not a glamorous job

04 Jan 2022 12:04pm
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PLANTATION sector is seen as one of the less glamorous sectors among the locals as they are facing labor shortages.

Ironically, plantation work that requires heavy tasks are said to be the root of the problem apart from the out-migration of the rural communities in moving to better cities to work in industrial sectors.

It indirectly attracts less attention from the locals especially the youngsters although the income pays a great deal of money.

Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng during recent Dewan Rakyat meeting said, based on the average price of the Raw Palm Oil which is RM4,555 per tan, the loss that they had to bear due to labor shortages in the plantation sectors as of August this year was over RM14 billion.

He said, the estimated total loss increased by 56 per cent and more than 100 percent compared to 2020 and 2019 due to labor shortages and were estimated over RM9 billions and RM6 billion a year respectively.

It is not a surprise that the government decided to bring in 32,000 foreign labor workers from Indonesia and Bangladesh who have completed their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine to meet the manpower needs in palm plantations in the country.

Plantation Industries and Commodities minister, Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said, the foreign workers are allowed to be brought into the country to carry out the palm fruit harvesting work.

According to her, the income of the plantation workers are quite lucrative depending on the company, in which those who are paid with basic salary of RM1,200 managed to earn up to RM2,000 not including the incentives and overtime allowances.

Zuraida's statement is correct because the writer herself saw a video that went viral on social media regarding a Bangladeshi man who earned up to RM5,000 from doing the plantation works in Kemaman, Terengganu.

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More impressively, he is able to send aid of RM4,500 to his family in Bangladesh every month as a result of his own hard work working at the plantation since five years ago.

Looking at the video, it makes us think how a foreigner like him who works tirelessly in helping his family is able to earn such a lucrative income, which is possibly higher than those who works in air-conditioned settings.

However, to reduce the dependency on the foreign workers, the government through Plantation Industries and Commodity, as an example, should consider using machinery in the plantation sectors.

In fact, there are many job opportunities in the plantation sector, but it is up to us whether or not we want to take the chance or open more doors of opportunities to the foreign workers.

As an instance, Felcra Berhad introduced the Development of Human Capital Programme for the positions such as harvesting operators, tappers and plantation machinery drivers for the purpose of providing career advancement opportunities in the plantation sector.

The company also introduces competitive allowances and incentives especially to the group who have lost their jobs or their income source during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

Among the allowances provided are housing, medical and transportations.

As a matter of fact, there are many opportunities and offers that have been provided by the government and private sectors to attract the locals to work in plantation sectors.

However, perhaps more efforts need to be done in promoting the job opportunities, including encouraging the employment of local workers into the plantation sector as well as improving the living standards quality of the workers through housing and basic amenities in the plantation sector.