KUCHING: Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) is hoping the recruitment of foreign workers for the state’s oil palm growers will resume in the coming year.
In expressing the association’s wish for 2022, Soppoa chief executive officer Dr Felix Moh said the closure of international borders to curb the spread of the coronavirus had made it impossible for oil palm growers to recruit foreign workers to operate and manage their plantations for the past two years.
“There was basically no new recruitment of foreign workers taking place for the past years and at the same time, many workers had flown back to their home country.
“This had created a huge job vacuum and millions of tonnes of palm fruits were left unharvested and rotten,” he said.
According to Moh, oil palm growers had many times pleaded to the government to assist in alleviating their plight but that government officials had their hands tied as understandably, the border matters of other countries were beyond their control.
He said in light of the dramatic drop in new Covid-19 cases recently, both Malaysia and Indonesia had consecutively announced the opening of their borders to international travel back in October.
“Despite some hiccups, it seemed that the Indonesian government was going to allow its citizens to resume employment in Malaysia with certain recruitment conditions.
“However, with 2021 coming to an end, oil palm growers are still anxious as they are still unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of new incoming of foreign workers as promised.”
Moh said the state’s oil palm growers are suffering from 20 per cent to 30 per cent loss of total crop production as a result of the shortage of about 45,000 foreign workers for 2021 alone.
“It is anticipated that 2022 will remain challenging as the foreign worker shortage is only getting worse, especially as more are expected to be repatriated when their contracts or permits expire,” he added. Reproduced from The Borneo Post