The oil palm industry is currently facing problems of labour shortage and increasing cost of production. In order for it to remain competitive and viable, one of the ways is to mechanise its operations to enhance labour productivity and hence reduce its dependency on labour. According to Baker et al. (1973), economic profitability will dictate the level of mechanisation and profitability is influenced by the available technologies. Plantation mechanisation in Malaysia has been primarily based on imported machinery but of late locally fabricated machines and adoptive technology are being slowly introduced. In some instances, inspite of the needs, mechanisation has been faced with obstacles from technical problems, social issues as well as field conditions, as more and more oil palm is being planted on hilly land. This paper reviews some of the technical problems and social issues in implementing mechanisation in the oil palm plantations. It is not an exhaustive review of plantation mechanisation but only an indication of the work and thinking now going on.
Keywords: PALM OIL AND OIL PALM INDUSTRY, OIL PALM ESTATES AND PLANTATIONS-Malaysia, PLANTATION MANAGEMENT, FARM MECHANIZATION