By Adrian Lim
KOTA SAMARAHAN, June 5: The cocoa cluster development chain programme developed by the Plantations and Commodities Ministry located here is expected to be the game changer for the cocoa industry in Sarawak.
Deputy Plantations and Commodities Minister Willie Mongin said the programme will be implemented using the farm-to-table, or the bean-to-bar chocolate model.
“With the model, we can also focus on the product development for the downstream industry.
“Through the implementation of the programme, cocoa farmholders and the local community are able to increase their income through the production of cocoa beans (upon selling them).
“Cocoa farmholders will be given subsidies for new crops which have potential to be commercialised.
“Besides this, assistance will be provided to small farmholders who wants to expand their plantations landbank,” he said during a press conference at the Malaysian Cocoa Board here today.
Willie was on a ground visit to inspect the development of the Sara Cluster Complex which is expected to be completed by October this year and be in operation by year end.
He revealed that under the comprehensive economic stimulus package 2020, the federal government had allocated RM2.69 million to 4,943 eligible cocoa farmholders to assist them in purchasing farming products.
Wille hoped the assistance will reduce the burden of cocoa farmholders which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the same time, he revealed that the planting of cocoa for the Sara Cocoa Cluster programme will be at Sebuyau, Asajaya, Kota Samarahan and Padawan which are included in the Puncak Borneo Parliamentary constituency.
Willie who is Puncak Borneo MP said the planting of cocoa under the Sara Cocoa Cluster programme will also be expanded to Tebedu and Serian in the future.
He disclosed the cocoa plantation in Sarawak covers an area of 860 hectares operated by 1,138 cocoa farmholders.
Willie said at the ministry level, negotiations have been conducted with cocoa exporting countries to stabilise the price of the cocoa at the international market.
The initiative, he said was to assist cocoa farmholders to earn higher income and market for their produce.
Thus, he urged cocoa farmholders to participate in the programme.
He observed that demand for cocoa worldwide had increased annually. Thus, he believed there is big potential for the development of the cocoa industry in Sarawak.
Willie added the Plantations and Commodities Ministry is committed to develop the plantation industry in Sarawak and will renew the interest, especially the youths to venture into plantations to earn a living.—DayakDaily