"We just had a meeting in Jakarta to follow up on the result of a cooperation with a Philippine investor on a plan to build a cacao processing plant," Governor H.Anwar Adnan Saleh said here Monday.
He said the Philippine investor was very serious in building a cacao processing plant in West Sulawesi because the region is a heavy chocolate consumer.
He said the cacao processing factory in Manila, capital of the Philippines, will not be relocated to West Sulawesi because special machinery will be installed in Mamuju in the early days of the building of the processing plant this year.
The governor said that the Philippine investor decided to build the cacao processing plant in West Sulawesi because the area is a chocolate producer contributing 20 pct to the national output.
"We are merely supplying the cacao of the farmers in West Sulawesi for processing at the plant which will be built. The result of the processing will be sent to their country," he said.
He said another consideration which made the Philippine investor to become interested in building the plant is the availability of power in West Sulawesi as this year several investors will be building hydro-electric power plants (PLTA) there.
Anwar said this cooperation had been established several months ago in Manila with the facilities of the Indonesian ambassador to the Philippines followed by the signing of an MoU.
Anwar said West Sulawesi is expected to produce 500,000 tons of cacao per year in the next few years, so that Indonesia will be able to produce one million tons per year.
He added that when the times had come that Indonesia can produce one million tons of cacao per year, it will take over the position of the Ivory Coast as the world`s biggest cacao producer.
"The cacao planting program boosted by the government in West Sulawesi is by planting 7.1 million cacao somatic embriogenesis trees in 332,902 hectares," he said.
The government plants SE cacao seeds for the farmers because of its high productivity reaching two tons per hectare. "If the spreading of the SE seeds reached 332 hectares in West Sulawesi, the province may be able to reach a production of 500,000 tons per year," he said. (*)