Palm oil production is big business in Malaysia. However, this labour intensive industry is offering very low wages at $150 per month; this is attracting migrant workers from poorer neighbouring countries including Bangladesh and Indonesia.
The Malaysian government have introduced a new minimum wage scheme, which will take a monthly income working in a palm oil plant to $300 a month, but this is still under the poverty line. The palm oil plantations are worried that targets will not be met, unless more work visas are created to meet the demand of palm oil production. More jobs need completion by the people of Malaysia.
Creating sustainable palm oil is important and it is vital to focus on creating fair trade jobs – where the worker receives a reasonable rate of pay for the work done. Palm oil is a commodity used in many products including biscuits, breads, cakes, crisps, frozen food and bio-fuel.
There are so many issues surrounding the production of sustainable farming including environment, legal and issues. Not only underpaid workers, but also orangutans are victims to this multi-billion dollar industry.
The demand for palm oil is growing – and fast. The palm oil plant is increasingly being used in biodiesel, to feed this ever-growing demand, rainforests and peatlands throughout South East Asia are destroying the eco-system.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) established in 2001, to prevent unethical actions including environmental and social problems. The GreenPalm programme awards a certificate for each tonne of palm oil, which has been sustainable produced. These GreenPalm certificates work in a similar process as carbon credits.