Monitoring and Auditing Human Energy Input for Oil Palm and Rice Production in Malaysia
Current practices in the cultivation of oil palm and rice in Malaysia rely extensively on low technology and high labor inputs. Aspects of human labor usage, technology suitability, and readiness of support systems must properly be addressed for the oil palm and rice industries to remain globally competitive. Thus, a study was conducted to audit the energy inputs and field capacities of workers in implementing the main field operations involved in the cultivation of both crops in Malaysia. Measurements of human energy expenditure were taken while the workers were performing various field and nursery operations in the cultivation of oil palm and rice. Total human energy input for an operation was calculated by multiplying its measured human energy input by the frequency of its operation in a year. The total annual human energy input for a typical worker was 18,975 kcal haˉ¹yrˉ¹man ˉ¹ and 11,620 kcal haˉ¹yrˉ¹manˉ¹ for oil palm and rice cultivation, respectively. The results showed that oil palm cultivation required 1.6 times more energy input compared with rice cultivation. For oil palm cultivation, filling large polybags with soil at the nursery stage and in-field loose fruit collection operations at the field stage showed the highest annual human energy input, accounting for 36.73% and 67.87%, respectively, of the total annual human energy input for all farm operations. Planting germinated seedlings in small polybags at the nursery stage and holing operation at the field stage had the lowest annual human energy input (0.30% and 0.02% of the total energy input, respectively). For rice cultivation, pesticide spraying showed the highest annual human energy input (55.73% of the total) while the second plowing operation had the lowest annual human energy input (2.20% of the total). Strategies for further technological improvements should be directed to field or nursery stage operations with the highest consumption of annual human energy inputs in these two economically important crops.
Key Words: energy auditing, human energy, oil palm cultivation, rice cultivation