By Jack Wong ( The Star -March 9,2010)
Sarawak oil palm planters are hit hard by the acute labour shortage which has caused enormous economic losses to the state. State Land Development Minister Datuk Dr James Masing said plantation companies had complained that the worker shortage had resulted in between 10% and 15% of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) in plantations not being harvested and left to rot.
“We (Sarawak) lose up to RM1bil a year in uncollected FFB,” he added. Sarawak now has more than 600,000 ha of matured oil palm estates.Citing Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) as an example, Masing said the agency, which owned some 48,000 ha of oil palm plantations, was short of nearly 1,000 plantation workers. Salcra, which has some 16,000 scheme participants, has an estate workforce of 3,550.