Good agricultural practices can raise cocoa farmers' income - Fadillah

06 Aug 2023 10:14pm
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof - BERNAMA FILE PIX
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof - BERNAMA FILE PIX

BANTING - Premium cocoa seeds cultivated through good agricultural practices can increase the income of farmers, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said.

Fadillah, who is also Plantation and Commodities Minister, said the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) is always conducting research and development to ensure cocoa farmers are able to produce premium beans.

"The premium-grade dried cocoa beans can fetch up to RM15 per kilogramme (kg) while the regular ones may cost only RM6 to RM7 per kg.

"So it is not enough to just plant seeds, but to cultivate them using good agricultural practices. If all the standards are complied with, the beans would command better prices.

"That's what we're striving for. That's why courses are organised from time to time to train smallholders on how to produce premium products,” he told the media after meeting cocoa industry entrepreneurs in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor, today.

Fadillah also noted that there was a course organised today for cocoa farmers in the area, including those from Tanjung Karang, Sabah Benam, and Sekinchan.

According to him, farmers everywhere are hoping the government will support them with fertilisers, pesticides and seeds amid the rising costs of these agricultural inputs.

"They also hope that the Federal Government can help via the MCB. We will discuss this with the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry, Economy Ministry and Finance Ministry to see what assistance to provide them, whether it be in the form of subsidies or any assistance to ease (the costs of) agricultural inputs,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Fadillah praised cocoa grower Lee Soon Cheong, who hosted the final leg of the Peninsular Central Zone Commodity Trek Programme 2023 at Kebun Lee’s Cocoa, for having successfully cultivated almost eight hectares with choice seeds from the MCB.

Lee eventually produced downstream products, which he currently sells online and offline.

Fadillah also visited the cocoa beans drying site (Sauna Cacao) and launched Lee's Cocoa Tree to Bar premium products. Kebun Lee's Cocoa also conducts agro-tourism activities for domestic and foreign visitors, showcasing the production process from the bean stage to chocolate production.

In line with the MCB's plan to make Malaysia a premium beans producer, Kebun Lee's Cocoa is one of the suppliers cultivating, processing and drying beans and making premium chocolate products with a "tree to bar” concept.

So far, the plantation programme under the MCB in Selangor has grown to 16.84 hectares with the participation of 35 cocoa farmers.

The ministry, via the MCB, will continue with efforts to raise the yield and productivity of the crop as well as offering a range of incentives for smallholders nationwide, he said. - BERNAMA