1st August, 2012
SERIAN: Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok says the country targets to expand the area under cocoa by 2,000 hectares every year, increasing the total to 40,000 hectares from 20,543 hectares last year.
The government has approved a RM17.8 allocation this year to the Malaysian Cocoa Board (LKM) to develop 2,000 hectares of land for new cocoa plantations and RM8.4 million to rehabilitate 1,000 hectares of unproductive and abandoned areas nationwide, he said.
“To ensure cocoa bean production continues to increase and help meet the demand from local cocoa millers, the National Commodity Industry Policy for 2011-2020 was launched to provide a policy framework for the holistic development of the industry,” he said at the launch of a cocoa basic technology course.
At the event, which was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister and Serian MP Datuk Richard Riot, 113 new growers from Serian and Simunjan districts each received a RM8,000/hectare incentive, comprising cocoa seedlings, fertilisers and other agriculture inputs.
Dompok said Malaysia produced only about 5,000 tonnes of cocoa beans last year, far below the annual demand of 300,000 tonnes.
“This means Malaysia needs to import 295,000 tonnes from other producers, mainly Indonesia, Cote d’lvoire and Ghana,” he said, adding now is the best time for smallholders to return to cocoa cultivation in view of the high demand.
He said such a situation would lead to a rise in cocoa bean prices in the market and ensure lucrative returns for cocoa growers.
Earlier, LKM Director-General Dr Lee Choon Hui said of the 1,567 hectares of land to be developed into new cocoa plantations nationwide, 567 hectares will be in Sarawak, including in Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Bintulu and Miri.