The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities aims to increase the cocoa plantation hectarage to 40,000 by 2020 to
meet the demand of the domestic grinding sector.
Its Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the planted area under cocoa in Malaysia was currently at 21,710 hectares, and contributed towards the production of 3,645 tonnes of cocoa beans.
"Malaysia has a grinding capacity of 300,00 tonnes annually. With the expansion, we expect to increase this to 60,000 more tonnes by 2020," he told a press conference after officiating the Malaysian International Cocoa Fair 2013 today.
According to Douglas, the expansion plan is also expected to generate RM4 billion in revenue by 2020.
He said the expansion would focus mainly on Sabah and Sarawak, where the Ministry plans to attract locals to participate in the industry.
"The government will assist them by allocating RM8,000 on a per hectare basis as financial support for the participation.
"This is one of government's incentives to assist smallholders through numerous programmes on the rehabilitation of poor cocoa plantings, as well as new plantings to increase the hectarage for the crop," he added.
Douglas said to further encourage the development of the cocoa industry, emphasis would be given towards addressing disease and productivity levels.
"The Malaysian Cocoa Board has always emphasised research and
development towards ensuring long term sustainability through productivity and innovation," he added.
He said Malaysia was committed to working with international and other institutions on strengthening the global cocoa sector to ensure sustainable development, while increasing benefits for all stakeholders.
"To promote the long term development of the cocoa industry, the strategic directions and policies are outlined in the National Commodity Policy (2011-2020).
"Under the policy, the focus for the cocoa industry includes enhancing productivity and competitiveness, intensifying research, development and commercialisation, and strengthening industry linkages," Douglas said.
He said the policy is expected to strengthen the development of the cocoa industry in Malaysia in the longer term.
Commenting on innovation for cocoa-based products, Douglas said there was a need for the development of new products which are health related, including neutraceuticals, which would expand the use of cocoa products for good of mankind.
"The continuous development of new products will further strengthen new demand for raw materials, as well as contribute to higher income for growers, in particular, smallholders," he explained.-- Bernama