By Ling Hui
KUCHING, Dec 21: Sarawak has to venture into value-added cocoa products such as chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa liquor to reap bigger profits.
“The price of cocoa at the upstream level is undeniably quite low, but if we add value into cocoa in the downstream products, the price is fairly high,” said Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Willie Mongin.
Noting that the price of cocoa in Sarawak could be more or less RM5 per kilogram for various grades, he emphasised that processed items or downstream products can be sold at higher prices.
He also cited an example of a 200g chocolate bar that could fetch a price of to RM200, which is much higher than selling cocoa itself.
Believing that investment in this industry could bring more revenue to the state, Willie asserted that Sarawak needs to set out on this journey, otherwise it would be left behind.
With that, he urged entrepreneurs and farmers who are interested in joining this cooperative under the Sara Cocoa Cluster to come forward and talk to the officers of the Malaysian Cocoa Board (LKM) Sarawak branch in Kota Samarahan.
There at LKM, he said, different facilities, training and courses can be provided to those interested to kickstart their businesses.
“Just imagine this, Sarawak cocoa is among the best quality products in the world, but there is not one successful entrepreneur from the state.
“If I’m not mistaken, there is only one Foochow from Sibu, who managed to become the owner of Beryl’s Chocolate, a chocolate brand belonging to Malaysia.
“It is now sold at various international airports and major shopping complexes,” he said during a press conference after the handover ceremony for Phase One of the Cocoa Bean Collection Centre at LKM, Kota Samarahan today.
Adding on to this statement, LKM Upstream Cocoa Technology Division director-cum-Cocoa Research and Development Centre manager Haya Ramba said there are only 14 chocolate entrepreneurs in Sarawak who have undergone Level One training under LKM since 2014.
Among them, only two or three are currently active in the business. — DayakDaily