More investors and FDI needed to develop cocoa industry in Sarawak

Willie (right) trying to make some chocolate from a mould at the Research Centre of Malaysian Cocoa Board here. Also seen is Malaysian Cocoa Board’s supervision and quality control director Abdul Karim Che Hamid (left).

By Adrian Lim

KOTA SAMARAHAN, June 5: The Ministry of Plantations and Commodities welcomed more investors and foreign direct investments (FDI) into the cocoa industry in Sarawak.

Deputy Minister of Plantations and Commodities Willie Mongin believed more investment is needed to spur the development of the cocoa industry in the state.

“We encourage investors and FDI into Sarawak to invest and commercialise the cocoa plantation industry in Sarawak.

“At present, most of the cocoa planters in Sarawak are operated by smallholders.

“Hence, more FDI coming into Sarawak will help to boost the development of the cocoa industry, besides achieving economic-of-scale production,” he said after visiting the Sara Cocoa Cluster Complex during a ground visit to the Malaysian Cocoa Board here today.

Willie noted the cocoa industry in Sarawak can be further developed using technology and mass production in the future.

As a result, he believed the export of cocoa will provide the country with higher income and also for the cocoa smallholders in Sarawak.

Willie added the Plantations and Commodities Ministry is also looking to assist local cocoa smallholders to diversify their product offering and earn higher income.

He observed that there is a pricing gap between upstream and downstream cocoa products.

Willie noted the profit margin for downstream cocoa products are higher whilst upstream products are lower.

Thus, he said the Plantations and Commodities Ministry is working on narrowing the gap of pricing of both the upstream and downstream products.

Willie revealed that one of the initiatives to assist cocoa farmholders is through the profit sharing from the cooperatives set up by the ministry.

He said cocoa smallholders and industry players are encouraged to participate in cooperatives so that they can enjoy the benefit from the profit sharing concept.

At the same time, Willie who is Puncak Borneo MP has called on the youths at Puncak Borneo and the youth throughout Sarawak who are interested in cocoa plantation to register with the Malaysian Cocoa Board.

He said the youths will be able to participate in the plantation programme for instance cocoa plantation or crops planting at the land which has been abandoned in the rural areas.

Willie said integrated crops farming can be conducted at the land which has been abandoned in the rural areas as well.

He noted the integrated crops farming will also provide some side income for the youths as well.

At the same time, he called on the Malaysian Cocoa Board and the cocoa smallholders in Sarawak to cultivate more agricultural entrepreneurs for the downstream industry for instance chocolate manufacturing and so forth.

Willie believed there are big potential for the development of the downstream cocoa industry in Sarawak and has urged smallholders to seize and tap the opportunities given by the Plantations and Commodities Industry.-DayakDaily