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BAGAN DATUK: The Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) expects cocoa export value in 2017 to surpass the RM5.8 billion recorded last year.

Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister, Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur, said the cocoa industry was the fourth biggest contributor to the main commodity export value last year, after oil palm, rubber and timber, having increased by 14 per cent to RM5.74 billion from RM5.02 billion recorded in 2015.

“Although the cocoa industry has been facing numerous challenges, especially in the decreasing plantation area and yield, we have been able to increase export revenue through MCB’s continuous efforts.

“The main contributors to the cocoa export revenue were its downstream products, such as cocoa fat and cocoa powder, contributing RM3.4 billion or 58.9 per cent of the total export value,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after officiating the Cocoa Team (C-Team) 2.0 three-day workshop, attended by close to 100 participants.

During the event, Datu Nasrun, together with MCB Director-General, Datin Norhaini Udin, and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Director, Datuk Nooraziah Abd Manaf, also witnessed MCB’s anti-corruption pledge by Division Directors and Centre Managers at the Cocoa Research and Development Centre here, today.

Datu Nasrun said Malaysia is currently the world’s eighth biggest cocoa processing country, however, the local industry was still dependent on imported cocoa beans.

“As such, there is a need to increase cocoa plantation areas and cocoa production effectively and continuously to reduce reliance on imported cocoa beans,” he said.

He said Malaysia’s cocoa export was mainly to Asian countries such as Japan, China and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Datu Nasrun said MCB had been actively involved in the development of the Cocoa Cluster project in three areas – Ranau, Sabah; Kota Samarahan, Sarawak; and Pahang Cocoa Belt, encompassing Raub, Kuala Lipis and Jerantut.

He said the project’s “farm to table" concept would involve cocoa entrepreneurs in every step of the cocoa production and processing value chain right up to the end product, in an effort to raise their incomes and living standards.

On the C-Team workshop, Datu Nasrun said that it was one of the strategies in strengthening the upstream sector to increase existing production.

“The establishment of the C-Team is a good strategy and would give a positive impact on efforts to increase production and income of cocoa planters, as the personal touch approach would bring the government’s programmes closer to the target groups,” he said.

He said the direct engagement strategy was effective, as it focused on giving specific solutions and motivations to cocoa planters.

The C-Team was established in 2016 as a game changer in MCB’s implementation to address the issue of decreasing cocoa yields.

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