Sweetening appeal of Iskandar Malaysia

The Tanjung Piai Chocolate Entrepreneurship Centre has a sales gallery and offers chocolate-making courses.

THE Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) has established a trade hub in Johor to turn Iskandar Malaysia into a cocoa centre.

MCB chairman Datuk Matbali Musah said the trade hub and Cocoa Nexus developments were part of the National Agricommodity Policy 2021-2023.

“The programmes are also supported by Johor’s infrastructure, workforce and connectivity as the state has several major ports for importing and exporting dry cocoa beans as well as semi-finished and finished chocolate products.

“This will strengthen the country’s production of cocoa products,” he said.

Matbali said Johor currently had 55 cocoa farmers cultivating a total 52ha, making the state the fourth largest cocoa producer in Peninsular Malaysia after Pahang, Perak and Kelantan.

He said Johor had three cocoa grinding centres and 11 manufacturers of chocolate and confectionery.

“Under MCB’s guidance, Johor has 12 chocolatiers in Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang, Skudai and Masai that are actively producing handmade chocolates.

“Now that the Tanjung Piai Chocolate Entrepreneurship Centre has been set up in Pontian, we hope to see more chocolatiers from Johor soon.”

Matbali said the chocolate entrepreneurship centre, which was the first of its kind in the state, began operating on July 24 last year.

“The centre has a sales gallery and offers chocolate-making courses for chocolate entrepreneurs.

“At the same time, the centre aims to promote locally-made chocolate brands, especially those from Johor,” he added.

MCB held an open day recently to promote the centre’s activities and functions.

“The two-day event included chocolate-making demonstrations and contests, entrepreneur-sharing sessions and sale of cocoa-based products.

“We hope other agencies can conduct related programmes at the centre to produce more chocolate entrepreneurs and improve the quality of confectionery made in Johor.

“This will also create job opportunities for the locals, including the B40 community,” said Matbali.

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