Freeze hurting our agriculture – Labour shortage issues

Cause and effect: Prices of vegetables and poultry are expected to keep increasing due to manpower shortage at the farms.

PETALING JAYA: The freeze on foreign labour is hurting the local agriculture industry here with livestock farmers claiming that the industry will be crippled within a year if nothing is done.

Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations Malaysia president Datuk Jeffrey Ng said consumers would have to pay more for imported meat because local farms would be forced to close down due to the lack of workers.

“We do not want this to happen,” he said.

Stressing that many farms were struggling to keep up with production to meet market needs, Ng said he was not optimistic of the situation getting any better.

“I do not know how long we can sustain because the workers are leaving gradually after their contracts end,” he said.

Ng said claims that foreign workers contributed to social and security problems could not be applied to the livestock industry because the farms were mostly away from the cities.

“Our workers eat and stay at the farms.

“They do not get their weekly off days like others, so they can hardly leave their work place,” he said.

He pointed out that the industry was facing a shortage of at least 8,000 workers.

“We are not asking for more but to replace those whose contracts have expired,” he said.

In Johor Baru, the state’s Small and Medium Poultry Farmers Association president Lim Ka Cheng said farmers and businesses had voiced out their concerns over the shortage of foreign workers.

“Johor usually supplies some 10 million dressed chickens and eight million eggs each month but production has dropped by some 20% since early this year.

“We are the top producer of chickens and eggs in the country, contributing 30% of the overall supply while 10% of the production is exported to Singapore,” he said.

Lim said during the recent meeting with the Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association, Malaysian Mushroom Research Association and Malaysian Fruit Farmers Association, it was highlighted that the shortage of workers was at a “very worrying stage”.

“The Government’s policy has posed a huge challenge for us as foreign workers cannot extend their contracts nor can business owners bring in more foreign labour to work at farms and sites,” he said when contacted.

He said the production sector would be affected if the problem was not resolved soon.

Lim said locals stayed away from such jobs and the association’s 300 chicken farmers needed foreign workers to maintain the hygiene of the farms and processing plants.

 Source: The Star Online

Comments: Should reconsider previous implementation of an induction course for the foreign workers to attend, learning about our culture, language & law. Perhaps that may lead to lower social & security problems. Or is that just an excuse by the government to make way for locals to be employed (but yet the low skill & low knowledge locals still avoid these jobs?)

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