BAGAN DATOH: Various programmes are being introduced by the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities to boost cocoa output in the country which is currently insufficient to meet domestic demand.
Production has declined sharply over the years and stood at 3,000 tonnes in 2013 from 247,000 tonnes produced in 1990.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the government was assisting cocoa farmers by providing incentives to rehabilitate low yielding cocoa trees, abandoned and unattended cocoa fields and cocoa cultivation in new areas.
“After providing incentives for two years, production in the last quarter of 2013 showed a positive output of 917 tonnes of cocoa beans,” Uggah said when opening a training session for master facilitators at the Cocoa Research Centre here today.
His speech text was read, on his behalf, by the ministry’s Secretary-General Datuk Seri Nurmala Abdul Rahim.
He said in order to attract more locals to participate in the cocoa industry, the government would provide financial assistance of RM8,000 per hectare Uggah also said the government aimed to increase land under cocoa plantation to 40,000 hectares by 2020 and this would increase Malaysia’s annual grinding capacity to 360,000 tonnes.
The minister also said Malaysia was the largest cocoa grinder in the Asia Pacific and the fifth largest in the world after the Netherlands, Cote d’Ivoire, Germany and the United States.
Malaysia’s cocoa products such as cocoa butter, cocoa powder, cocoa paste, chocolates and cocoa-based confectioneries are exported to over 100 countries, he added.
“Among the major markets for Malaysia’s cocoa products are the United States, Europe Union, China and South East Asia,” he added. — Bernama