Facing acute manpower shortage


KUCHING: The palm oil industry in Sarawak is now facing acute manpower shortage due to the closing of international borders.

Sarawak Oil Palm Plantations Owners Association (Soppoa) chairman Tiong Chiong Ong said this resulted in millions of ringgit in losses due to partial harvesting, slowdown of work and higher production cost in enforcing strict standard operating procedure for Covid-19 prevention in daily operations, including limiting hours of operations for estates and mills. 

Nevertheless, he said the continuation of operations in estates and mills, refineries in Sarawak during the recovery movement control order assisted the industry to overcome the economic slowdown. 

“The industry is most thankful to the relevant authorities at both federal and state levels for allowing the plantation sector to operate. 

“Soppoa also contributed a sum of RM500,549 to the State Disaster Management Committee as well as RM30,000 to the Printers Union to equip medical frontliners in Sarawak in support of the ongoing activities to contain the spread of the pandemic and to assist those who are sick and suffering, a corporate social responsibility effort,” he said when chairing Soppoa’s 12th annual general meeting on Sept 30.

He said over the course of the year, Soppoa had managed to meet with the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities and Malaysian Palm Oil Board to discuss issues affecting the palm oil industry. 

He added that several meetings with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, and other dignitaries as well as officials were also held to highlight labour shortage issues.

“We are assured that the state government  is supportive of the palm oil industry which contributes much employment opportunities and revenue to the state as well as providing the base for future downstream developments in oleochemical and food industries using palm oil.”