Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ministry mulls hiring 6P foreign workers for agriculture sector

BATU PAHAT: The Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry will discuss the possibility of employing foreigners registered under the 6P programme to fill vacancies in the agriculture sector.

Its deputy minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said the agriculture sector was facing a shortage of workers.

However, he said the problems posed by illegal foreign workers also had to be taken into consideration.

“There are 2.8 million registered foreign workers, which is about 10% of the country's population.

“This number excludes illegals and this might become a national security issue,'' he said.

However, he noted that without foreign workers, food production would be affected, adding that the issue needed to be discussed with Home Ministry officials.

He was commenting on a request from poultry farmers to allow the hiring of foreign workers.

Johor Small and Medium Livestock Farmers Association chairman Tan Tuan Cheng told a press conference on Sunday that the freeze on foreign workers was affecting chicken supply in the state.

Chua said he would bring the matter up at ministry level first before approaching the Home Ministry.

As of the middle of last year, he said there were 200,000 registered foreign workers in the agriculture sector.

In another development, Chua said the ministry has started renting padi fields from smallholders as part of its efforts to help small-scale farmers and modernise agricultural practices.

“The first phase of the project has started in Kedah with a total land area of 5,000ha for padi,” he said.

Source: The Star

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