Employment in agriculture falling as economic structure evolves over time, research finds

A farmer works at a vegetable farm in Kapar November 3, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
A farmer works at a vegetable farm in Kapar November 3, 2020. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 ― A research by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) found that agriculture employment has declined significantly to just 10.2 per cent out of the total employment nationwide in 2019, from 31.2 per cent in 1982.

According KRI’s recently published report, “Work in an Evolving Malaysia: The State of Households 2020 Part II”, the decline was due to the country’s economic structure that has evolved over the years and caused concentration of economic activities continuing to differ between states.

“The agriculture sector however remains an important source of employment in the north and east coast states such as Pahang, and in Sabah and Sarawak,” said KRI in the report.

KRI found that the agriculture jobs tend to have slower productivity levels (Gross Domestic Product per employment) compared to states with less concentration in agricultural activities.

“Additionally, agriculture has consistently reported a higher incidence of fatal injuries.

“In some agricultural activities, safe practices while using chemicals were also neglected, risking the health and safety of agricultural workers and farmers, among others,” said KRI.

The research institute also found that this sector has a higher proportion of non-standard workers and are likely unprotected by mandatory social protection schemes such as employment-related injury insurance.

“Essentially, decent work deficit is relatively higher in agriculture and its concentration in less developed states could indicate that work in some parts of the country is more precarious,” said KRI.

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