KUALA LUMPUR: There is an urgent need for the agro-food sub-sector to engage and participate in the adoption of technological upgrades and modern farming techniques as a solution to the shortage of 40 per cent labour in the agro-food sub-sector, particularly in Cameron Highlands.

Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) director-general Datuk Abdul Latif Abu Seman said that since the first Movement Control Order (MCO) last year, there has been a reduction of at least 30-40 per cent of both foreign and domestic workers due to zero replacements, making this a critical issue of future productivity for Cameron Highlands.

“Should this problem persist by 2025, it is predicted that it will produce a negative effect and will drag down the industry,” he said in a statement, here.

Following which, the Agro-Food Productivity Nexus (AFPN) and Electrical and Electronics Productivity Nexus (EEPN) with the support of the MPC, will introduce a potential automation programme to ensure productivity within the agro-food sub-sector particularly among the small and medium enterprises to remain consistent during the pandemic.

“As a solution, AFPN has taken the initiative to introduce a potential automation programme for the agro-food sub-sector. This programme includes a variety of technological solutions to aid the majority of tasks needed to be done in the farming activities while combating the shortage of both foreign and local workers,” he said.

AFPN will also organise a Hackathon two months from now, in collaboration with the other Productivity Nexus partners such as EEPN, Machinery & Equipment, Digital, and Chemical.

Relevant parties will be invited to participate in this technological idea-storming event to generate solutions to aid the technological resource and implementation.

Meanwhile, according to Cameron Highlands Floriculturists Association vice-president Wong Seng Yee, the Cameron Highlands agriculture sector contributes 60 per cent of vegetable supply within Peninsular Malaysia. It includes 4,046 ha of vegetable planted land, 809 ha for flowers and 1,619 ha for black tea.

“The integration of various disciplinary knowledge such as software, hardware and life science will further enhance farm produce’s quality and productivity and reduce farm input cost and labour,” he said.