Malaysian Sarawak’s cocoa bean production showed an upward trend in 2019 following the state’s increased cocoa hectarage.

According to Malaysian Cocoa Board (LKM) director Haya Ramba, the increased cocoa hectarage in Kuching and Samarahan regions also contributed to the upward trend.

Haya, who is also LKM Kota Samarahan Research Centre manager, said that recently the Department of Statistics figures showed 6,800 hectares of cocoa farms in Sarawak.

Although Sarawak has shown an upward trend in cocoa bean production, statistics reveal that the state only produced 151 tonnes of cocoa beans last year, said Haya. He added that the low production happened because there is no large-scale cocoa plantation in the state, and it depended on smallholdings.

The cocoa industry in Sarawak can develop further and LKM is taking a definite step by setting up the Sarawak Cocoa Cluster to boost the cocoa industry in the state. The cluster includes cocoa cultivation and processing of cocoa beans to chocolates.

Haya said that chocolate entrepreneur development in Sarawak is quite encouraging. The programme will be enhanced with the purchase of more machinery to train more cocoa product entrepreneurs in Sarawak, 14 persons have undergone the training since 2013.

According to Haya, they will encourage Sarawak Cocoa Cluster Co-operative members to take up the course to produce block chocolate once the Sarawak Cocoa Cluster Complex construction at LKM Kota Samarahan is completed in October this year.

He also said that LKM’s cocoa cluster chain development programme would be the game-changer for upstream activities. The programme will also be implemented using the ‘farm to table’ or ‘bean to bar’ (sic) model to encourage the development of downstream activities.

Haya explained that the programme would increase cocoa bean production, and thereby increase the incomes of cocoa farmers.

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