Fadillah: Sarawak a major player in nation’s cocoa industry

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Fadillah (front, second left) taking a closer look at some of the cocoa products showcased at Cocoa Research and Development Centre in Kota Samarahan. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KOTA SAMARAHAN (Sept 30): Sarawak accounted for about 20 per cent of the country’s production of dry cocoa beans last year, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof

The Plantation and Commodities Minister said the state produced 102 tonnes of dry cocoa beans in 2022, and 24.6 per cent of the cocoa cultivation farms in the country were located in Sarawak, covering an area of 1,473 hectares.

Moreover, he said Sarawak had also produced its own ‘Magnificent Choc’ brand of chocolate.

“The cultivation of cocoa in Sarawak is concentrated at Kota Samarahan and Sarikei.

“Moreover, there are 1,290 cocoa farmers across the state,” he said in his speech for the ‘Sarawak Cocoa Cluster Cooperative and Interaction Day’ at the Cocoa Research and Development Centre here today.

For the country as a whole, Fadillah said a total of 493 tonnes of dry cocoa beans were produced in 2022 from farms encompassing areas of 5,985 hectares, which he said could be expanded to 6,335 hectares.

“For the seven months up until July 2023, the country has exported RM4.364 billion worth of cocoa products and we expect the figure to hit RM8 billion this year.”

Fadillah highlighted the cocoa industry as having generated RM7.8 billion in export revenue for the country last year, while expressing hopes that the cocoa production industry would attract the interests of the younger generation.

On the Cocoa Research and Development Centre, Fadillah said it was the first of such institutions operating on the concept of ‘from farm to table’.

He said among the achievements of the centre was the production of the ‘Single Origin’ chocolate uniquely from Sarawak.

He also pointed out the centre had bought about 44 tonnes of cocoa beans from the farms in Samarahan, Asajaya, Sebuyau and Padawan areas, registering a total value of RM316,024 last year.

Some of the beans were then sold to factories and chocolatiers in Peninsular Malaysia, and the remaining supply was processed at the centre here for the ‘Magnificent Choc’ brand, he added.

“The centre, operated by Koperasi Kluster Koko Sarawak Berhad, has carried out various activities to help its members generate profits and ‘Magnificent Choc’ chocolate products valued at RM69,000 were purchased by the centre in 2022.”

Aside from serving as a research and development institution, the centre also runs operations that include processing cocoa beans, development programmes coordination, licensing and supervising services, promoting agro and commodity tourism, and organising educational tours.

At the event, memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed between Malaysian Cocoa Board (LKM) and Nestle; Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI); Koperasi Bangun Boyan Berhad; and the three cocoa cluster cooperatives each from Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

The objectives of the MoUs were to set up a ‘Nestle Borneo Cocoa Initiative’, promote sustainable cultivation practices, improve industry standards and carry out tourism activities.