KUALA LUMPUR: Two palm oil grower groups on Tuesday asked the Sabah government to reconsider the extension of an order suspending palm operations as part of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Sabah produces about 25 per cent of Malaysia’s palm oil. On Monday, it expanded the shutdown of palm oil plantations and factories to six districts in the state from three and extended the order until April 14, from March 31, after several palm estate workers tested positive for the virus.
The Malaysia Palm Oil Association and Malaysian Estate Owners’ Association urged the state government in a statement on Tuesday to allow critical operations including harvesting, crop evacuation and milling during the shutdown order.
The associations said the order will disrupt 75 per cent of the state’s palm oil production and affect about 65 per cent of the 1.2 million hectares (2.96 million acres) of plantations in the state.
It would lead to a potential revenue loss of RM860 million a month for the state, they added.
The planter groups said palm growing companies risk losing their estate and mill workers, totaling about 100,000 people, as some cannot afford to pay salaries during the closure.
The industry will face a big challenge resuming operations without the required workforce, they said.
The extended suspension comes as Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest palm oil producer, tightened its one-month MCO to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Malaysia has recorded over 2,700 cases of the virus, the highest in Southeast Asia. – Reuters.