SERDANG: The Primary Industries Ministry is optimistic that the cocoa industry would achieve the target of RM6 billion export value by 2020 as outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).
As of 2018, the nation’s cocoa exports have hit RM5.55 billion.
Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Tan Yew Chong said the 4.6% rise in the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 from 2017 is a positive sign that the target is achievable.
He said cocoa has good potential with the right business model as well as commercialisation and downstream activities.
"The cocoa sector contributed RM5.55 billion to the nation’s export revenue in 2018, accounting for RM1.44 billion or 0.1% of GDP.
"The amount is a 4.6% increase from RM1.38 billion the previous year,” he said at a media conference after launching 'Innovation to Market' (I2M), the Malaysian Cocoa Board’s (LKM) commercialisation of research findings programme at the UPM-MTDC Technology Centre here today.
The four-day programme is the first in a series of seven planned over the next six months on technology transfer and commercialisation for LKM researchers.
Also present was Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) chief executive officer Datuk Norhalim Yunus.
Tan said amid the cocoa industry’s very encouraging performance, cocoa has great potential for the export market.
However, he said, cooperation is still needed with the relevant agencies for research and development (R&D) as well as commercialisation in order to make it globally competitive.
"We cannot focus only on the local market, we also have to penetrate global markets.
"The export value of chocolate rose to RM1 billion last year. So besides oil palm cultivation, we can probably return to cultivating cocoa, which also gives a good income,” he noted.
Meanwhile, he said between 20 to 30 technologies and products will be commercialised for the cocoa industry.
"LKM has so far conducted 89 research projects since the 8th Malaysia Plan, with total allocation amounting to RM54.4 million.
"A total of 19 LKM products and technologies have been commercialised, and the agency has identified 63 R&D products such as cosmetics, self-care and food products with commercial potential,” he said.
Meanwhile, Norhalim said Malaysia’s cocoa products have also penetrated international markets such as Morocco.
“With the cooperation of researchers and entrepreneurs, we are exploring new markets especially in Asean and Oceania.
"We have the products, and we are confident the technology has reached the required level. What is important now is cooperation with entrepreneurs to commercialise and market the products,” he said.
The programme was attended by 26 LKM staff including research officers and marketing officers.