THE almost dire situation of the labour shortage on estates reported in StarBizweek (“Labour shortage worsens in oil palm sector amid pandemic”, Aug 8; online at bit.ly/star_shortage) can be partially overcome with mechanisation over time. However, this is a sector that will always remain labour- intensive. It was reported also that peak harvest season is towards the end of the year.
It is time we do like the West and look to school-leavers and undergrads to fill peak season gaps in labour. There is no scheme to create awareness of such job opportunities for this group of able-bodied young people. Making them aware and giving them the novel opportunity of estate living could well bring all round benefits.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, there were many such young Malaysians journeying to Australia and New Zealand to pick strawberries for a pittance (pun intended) in pay during peak seasons. We should stir that same interest in our youth, some of whom may even be prepared to make a living thereafter in the sector.