Thursday, May 14, 2009

How It's Done - Hard Work In The Plantation!

After spending the morning in school painting with the children Mr. Wong came and picked me up, to give me a first-hand introduction to what it takes to produce the palm oil we all use in various forms. Let me tell you, it's not a walk in the park - it's hard labor! Just like on our fields in Salinas Valley, much still has to be done by human hand - harvesting the ripe palm oil fruits being one of the labor intensive aspects of the whole process. As you can see from the photos the Melangking Oil Palm Plantation utilizes water buffalos to assist with the heavy job of getting the harvested fruits out of the plantation and out to the road, where they are then picked up by trucks and brought to the oil palm mill on the plantation. 
The reason they use the water buffalo is pretty obvious, it's so muddy in many areas of the plantation that it's the easiest way of getting the fruits out, and water buffalos are ideal for the job. 

Most of the workers on the plantations come from Indonesia and the Philippines, you will rarely if ever find Malays or Chinese working as laborers in the plantations, they work in the managerial positions, pretty much the same as we find in the California farm industry - only our labor force comes mainly from Mexico, and at least their children can attend the public schools. Not so in Malaysia - that's why Humana has stepped in and established schools at the plantations who have a social conscience and fund these schools, so the children of their employees can attend school, even if they do not qualify for attending the government schools. Unfortunately, there are still many plantations on Borneo who offer no such service, so the plantations I visited deserve a lot of credit for filling this huge need!

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