Comparison of two methods of manual harvesting of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.)
Keywords:Oil palm harvesting, Harvesting times, Human factors
AbstractTwo methods of harvesting oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) in Nigeria, namely the bamboo pole-and-knife (BPK) method and the single rope-and-cutlass (SRC) method, were investigated. Oil palm trees harvested by the BPK method are shorter than those harvested by the SRC method. Also, the times spent for each harvesting activity using the SRC method were significantly higher than the corresponding times with the BPK method. However, the ratios of time of each activity to either the total harvesting time or the total field time for both methods were not significantly different. The identified problems were the time-consuming search for, and the collection of, scattered loose fruits in both methods; difficulty of transporting the bamboo pole to and from the field; and the bending of the pole during use [making engagement of the knife with the fruit bunches and (or) fronds very difficult] with the BPK method. There was also the risk of accidental falls (due to rope failure) or insect and snake bites with the SRC method. It is recommended that a fruit catchment platform be introduced to eliminate or reduce drastically the fruit-collecting time, ensure virtually 100% scattered fruit recovery, and eliminate the waist pain experienced by fruit collectors. The harvesting pole should also be redesigned to reduce its weight, minimize bending, and increase the ease of its transportation.