Analysis of human energy expenditure in harvesting sugar palm (Arenga Pinnata Merr) in Malaysia

Darius El Pebrian, Zakiah binti Yusof


Sugar palm (Arenga pinnata Merr) is an indigenous plant in Malaysia, which has a great potential to be expanded into large scale plantation crop for the production of sugar and other sugar-based products. Until today, harvesting of sugar palm tree is a laborious operation, without application of any mechanization systems. It takes the largest demand for labor and time spent in the sugar palm cultivation. The main objective of the study was to investigate human energy expenditure in harvesting sugar palm in Malaysia. Workers’ workload and productivity in harvesting sugar palm were also analyzed. Relevant physical properties of sugar palm tree, heart rate, and human energy expenditure and worker productivity as well as in harvesting sugar palm were recorded and analyzed. The results showed that the highest mean time of 206.67 seconds or 79.57% of the total time was spent for tapping sap. Climbing down and climbing up were the least time consuming tasks in harvesting sugar palm with a mean time of 25.67 seconds and 27.42 seconds, or 9.89% and 10.57% of total time, respectively. The highest average heart rate of 101.94 beats/min was found when the worker harvesting the sugar palm in the evening times, and the lowest rate of 100.25 beats/min/man was in the morning time. The estimated human energy expenditure for harvesting sugar palm was 2.9 kcal/min and 3.1 kcal/min in the morning and the evening times, respectively. The average field capacity of a worker in the harvesting sugar palm operation was in the range of 20 to 21 palms/h. The most convenience age of the workers to harvest sugar palm was in the range of 20 to 29 years old. Implementation mechanized harvesting of sugar palm is recommended in order to improve the productivity of workers and reduce the human energy expenditure. 


sugar palm, human energy, environment, farm mechanization, plantation crop

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