BANGI: The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has come up with a three-wheeled utility farm vehicle equipped with a hybrid power electric sprayer system to assist planters with their maintenance work and transportation of palm fruits in the estates. In a statement, MPOB said a group of its researchers led by Dr Mohd Azwan Mohd Bakri invented the utility vehicle that is built with a single chassis. It is lightweight and suitable for various activities in the plantations including spraying pesticides using an electric pump as well as field applications by simply changing the rear platform. This simple innovation is expected to help increase the productivity of workers and smallholders involved in the local oil palm industry. According to Azwan, MPOB and Fulle Technik Sdn Bhd have signed an agreement for the transfer of the technology for the utility vehicle. Fulle Technik has embarked on an innovation effort to turn the results of this study into commercial products. Azwan said: “This technological innovation is expected to be available in the local market in the near future. “This simple utility vehicle produced at an affordable price can be used in various plantation and agricultural activities. “The function of the three-wheeled utility vehicle is similar to other motor vehicles in the market and powered by diesel or petrol engines.” Additional power for farm equipment such as electric sprayers is generated from hybrid power systems; solar and engine chargers. This hybrid power system is controlled by user-defined electronic equipment via a switch placed in front of the cabin. This machine is developed through engineering research methods where the specifications are studied to ensure it is suitable for the targeted markets. “Therefore, the production costs can be reduced, ” explained Azwan. Research for the innovation started in 2016 and then introduced in 2019. The preliminary studies were funded by MPOB while the pre-commercialisation efforts were funded by the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry, the Malaysian Technology Development Corp and other government agencies. Fulle Technik was appointed as the prototype developer while FGV Sdn Bhd was one of the plantation companies involved in the initial prototype testing. This innovation differs from the three-wheeled utility machinery currently in the market built for rugged plantation activities such as the transportation of fresh fruit bunches up to one tonne. “This innovation invented by MPOB is expected to provide more benefits to smallholders, sustainable oil palm growers cooperatives as well as oil palm plantation companies.” MPOB said the selling price, which is below RM15,000 based on the type of accessories requested, is the lowest in the local market for agricultural and plantation utility machinery. The additions such as hybrid generator power for plantation equipment could decrease the use of oil or fossil energy and also reduce environmental pollution in agricultural activities, added Azwan.
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