24/02/2024 09:35 AM

BANTING, Feb 23 (Bernama) -- Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) is aiming to use 100 per cent local labour, except fruit-pickers, in its oil palm plantations by 2027.

Its chief human resources officer,  Zulkifli Zainal Abidin said the policy was implemented under its 'Project Local', starting in 2019, which sees the adaptation of machinery technology in the plantation sector.

He said among the examples of machinery used in plantation management, to replace the need to use foreign labour in stages, were the use of drone technology and remote control technology for fertilising and controlling insects and pests.

"We have a wish that in 2027, we will have a local workforce, except for those involved in harvesting or picking the (oil palm) fruits in the plantations," he told reporters in conjunction with a working visit by Deputy Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Chan Foong Hin to the 'SD Plantation Future Fest '24' here today.

"Local workers are less interested in working because it is most difficult, especially involving trees that are too tall."

He said via the project, his team is also targeting one worker per 17.5 hectares (ha) of an oil palm estate in 2027 compared to one worker per 8 ha currently.

He elaborated that his team is also aiming for over 700 skilled local workers in all plantations owned by SDP throughout the country during the same period.

"We are also focusing on creating prototypes, especially for oil palm harvesting machines. This is because harvesting these fruits, especially from taller trees, is very difficult in oil palm estates" he said.

The two-day inaugural SD Plantation Future Fest ‘24, which began today, is aimed at showcasing the latest development of the company's initiative in transforming oil palm plantation work into a more modern and sophisticated one through mechanisation, automation and digitalisation.

Meanwhile, two memorandums of agreement (MoA) were also signed involving SDP and Universiti Malaya for the Phase Two project of the Laser Cutting Tool Development, which is a technology that is being tested to be used for harvesting palm fruit bunches.

The second MoA was between SDP and the Institute of Malaysian Plantation and Commodities (IMPAC) for the development programme of machine specialists, which is a new field of work created by SDP in line with the use of new and advanced machines that are now being used in their plantations.

Also present during the working visit was SDP chairman Tan Sri Dr Nik Norzrul Thani Nik Hassan Thani.




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