“Laser Cannon” innovative way of harvesting oil palm needs to be explored

WHILE watching short YouTube videos recently, I came across an ingenious Chinese invention which uses the laser beam to trim or prune large branches of tall trees safely, where even large branches were quickly felled or lopped off by the laser beam.

Immediately, my curiosity was piqued and what came to my mind was using the technology to easily harvest oil palm fruit bunches especially from tall palms.

Over the years I have written many letters that were published in news portals and print media about the oil palm industry.

If the method was successfully implemented for this purpose oil palm harvesting will be less laborious, safer, more economical and can partially overcome the perennial worker shortage in the plantations.

As is well known oil palm harvesting and the collection of the heavy harvested bunches from the trees and transporting them by wheelbarrows or manually carrying them to the nearest roads, especially in uneven terrain, are tough tasks.

As such there is a high turnover of workers as not many can withstand such hard work. One of the major problems besetting the oil palm industry is to ensure harvesting of the bunches in a much easier, timely and a cost effective way.

A few years back I came across competitions being held locally to find new ways and innovative methods to harvest oil palms.

I do not remember coming across any new innovative ways that were implemented in the estates as a result of the competition.

I have even seen modified chainsaws being used to harvest the bunches. All these methods are not practical and easier ways need to be found.

The laser method which I came across is known as the “Laser Cannon” and could be an effective harvesting solution the industry has been searching for decades.

It needs to be found whether the laser beam can be safe for the worker and the tree. Apart from harvesting, the “laser cannon” can also be used to trim the old fronds for good and for regular maintenance of the oil palm trees.

In the past few decades or so, the Malaysian palm oil industry has grown by leaps and bounds and presently contributes nearly a hundred billion ringgit to the economy.

Over the decades various new technologies and innovations have been implemented to ensure improvements and the sustainability and profitability of the industry.

New technologies and innovative methods need to be considered no matter from whom and where in order to ensure that the industry progresses.

I suggest that the industry employ more researchers and scientists from China as the Chinese stand out in inventing new technologies that simply amaze the world.

Many of their new inventions and innovative solutions especially in agriculture and SMEs are found by combining common sense with science and technology.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and plantation groups can look into the feasibility and practicality of this new Chinese innovation for implementation in the country. – May 22, 2024


V. Thomas is a Focus Malaysia viewer.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: Borneo Today

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