PONTIAN: Plans are in motion to set up a chocolate academy in Tanjung Piai to boost the economy there, says Deputy Primary Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng.
He said a location in Pekan Nanas had been identified while the name of the academy would be revealed soon.
“The initiative aims to equip youth, low-income earners and those interested in entrepreneurship with the necessary knowledge and skills to increase their incomes.
“The plan is being implemented by the ministry and the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB), which will also be providing the training and raw materials.
“We expect the academy to be opened by June this year, ” he said.
Wee, who is Tanjung Piai MP, said MCB would be providing links and a network to help the participants to market their products locally and internationally after they completed their training.
“The academy will also act as a chocolate promotion centre by showcasing chocolate-making demonstrations and product sales, ” he said.
Wee added that the academy, the first of its kind dedicated to cocoa and chocolate products in Malaysia, could also be expanded to other parts of the country to open up new opportunities to more Malaysians.
“The ministry is always looking for ways to improve the people’s lives, especially after their incomes were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We chose Tanjung Piai as the starting point to benefit the local community. As chocolates do not only contain cocoa, it can incorporate ingredients like pineapples, which Tanjung Piai is famous for, to make pineapple chocolates or other related products to create cross-
“I believe the cocoa industry has huge potential to be expanded as a tourism attraction as well as a tourism product, once the pandemic situation improves and travel becomes less restricted, ” he said.
Wee added that a team of auditors in charge of hygiene would be formed to prioritise food safety and handling.