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A worker is seen at a cocoa farm in Klang October 7, 2013. — Reuters pic

By Julia Chan

Wednesday, 22 Jun 2022 5:27 PM MYT

KOTA KINABALU, June 22 — The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) is looking at setting up a “cocoa nexus” in order to facilitate more downstream activities for the country’s cocoa products.

The ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Ravi Muthayah said although still in the research phase, the government was looking for a suitable location in the Iskandar region of Johor to set up the cocoa nexus that would serve as a hub to support the downstream production of cocoa in Malaysia.

“The research is ongoing and we will propose it to the government for implementation when ready.

“We will invite international names like Olam international and Barry Callebaut. The hub will help boost the local industry and help them with their own branding of chocolate. This is one of the major things we are doing to increase the export value of our chocolate,” he said when speaking to reporters after the opening of the National Cocoa Seminar 2022.

Deputy Minister Datuk Willie anak Mongin, who was present at the launch, earlier said much was being done to develop an awareness of Malaysia’s cocoa industry and bring the industry back to its glory days of the 1980s.

“We want the industry not only to generate revenue for the country, but also for industry players,” he said.

“Not many Malaysians are aware of the fact imported premium chocolates are made using cocoa beans and raw materials produced in the country. There is a need to increase this awareness so that Malaysians better appreciate locally made products,” he said.

Willie lamented that the level of awareness about the quality and excellence of locally produced chocolates had yet to reach an encouraging level.

“Many among us have this mindset that does not know the quality of Malaysian-made chocolates. The fact is that the raw materials used in making premium chocolates by international companies are exported from Malaysia.

“They then sell the finished product at a higher price, which we buy and extol the quality of the imported chocolate, when in fact the raw material was produced in Malaysia,” he said.

The Puncak Borneo MP also earlier officially launched Sabah’s first single-origin organic chocolate from Madai.

“This is the first single-origin organic cocoa product from Sabah. Through this launch, information on the success of obtaining the MyOrganic certification for single-origin cocoa and Madai organic chocolate can be communicated to external parties, especially to cocoa growers, chocolate companies, chocolate makers and others who are interested in developing and marketing the product,” he said.