KUALA LUMPUR: The adoption of mechanisation in Malaysia’s oil palm plantations is still relatively low at less than 50 per cent for overall field activities, and less than 15 per cent for harvesting, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

Director-general Datuk Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir attributed the low adoption rate to challenges such as system capability in rough environments, high implementation costs and lack of technical expertise.

“As such, efforts are being directed towards leveraging advancements in the fourth industrial revolution (IR 4.0) technologies like drones, robotics, sensors, big data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“One of the main drivers for increased mechanisation is the need to reduce dependency on foreign labour and increase local participation in the industry,” he said at the two-day 10th International Planters Conference 2023 which began yesterday.

Currently, the nation’s oil palm industry relies heavily on foreign labour, particularly for maintenance activities and harvesting of fresh fruit bunches (FFB).

Ahmad Parveez emphasised that increasing mechanisation adoption and developing skilled local workforce would help the oil palm industry address labour shortages and improve overall productivity.

He added that mechanisation could enhance efficiency, productivity and sustainability in oil palm plantations.

In its efforts to reduce dependency on foreign labour, the MPOB has aggressively conducted research and development and introduced breakthrough technologies to ease fieldwork and improve plantation efficiency and labour performances.

Its list of inventions includes the Hydra-Porter, a hydraulically- powered 4-Wheel FFB transporter; harvesting tools like Cantas and Cantas Electro, The Grabber, Beluga, sensor-based spraying vehicles, and FFB Mobile Lifter. -Bernama