Bali Cocoa Conference boon to RI`s industry

Bali Cocoa Conference boon to RI`s industry

Cocoa. (ANTARA/Yusran Uccang)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian International Cocoa Conference (IICC) in Bali from July 7-8, 2011 is expected to have a positive impact on the domestic cocoa industry.

This belief is based on the fact that Indonesia is now producing cocoa beans in such a large quantity that it has replaced Ivory Coast as the world`s largest cocoa producer and exporter.

The chairman of the conference`s organizing committee, Antonius Pasaribu, said in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Wednesday that the 5th Indonesian International Cocoa Conference and Dinner 2011 would be held to discuss the latest developments in the cocoa industry.

The Indonesian government in mid-2008 announced a large national program to revitalize the cocoa industry, known as Gernas Pro Kakao.

Since the announcement of the Gernas Pro Kakao program, West Sulawesi Governor Anwar Adnan Saleh expressed optimism early this year that his province was able to turn Indonesia into the largest cocoa producing country.

Anwar said the Gernas Pro Kakao program was intended to replace up to 70,000 hectares of cocoa, rehabilitate another 140,000 hectares and intensify farming on 300,000 hectares - bringing the total planted area to around 900,000 hectares of productive cocoa.

The West Sulawesi governor said Ivory Coast at present was the world`s largest cocoa producing country while Indonesia is on the third place, but he was optimistic that the latter will be the first in years to come.

"The Gernas Pro Kakao program has a target to improve the production and quality of the commodity to exceed Ivory Coast in 2014," the governor said.

In light of this, 5th IICC organizing committee chairman Antonius Pasaribu said this year`s international conference, organized by Indonesian Cocoa Association (Askindo), has gained very positive response from various stakeholders worldwide.

"They will actively participate in the international cocoa conference as speakers and moderators," Antonius said.

He added that in the conference, themed "Working Together for a Better Cocoa Future", the participants would discuss a number of interesting issues such as the current condition of the cocoa industry, cocoa sustainability, certification, and the cocoa future prospect.

Some 80 percent of national cocoa production came from eastern Indonesian regions while the rest come from other provinces such as Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, and Aceh.

Meanwhile, Aceh Cocoa Forum (FKA) has set itself a target to make Aceh province one of the largest cocoa producing areas in Indonesia in 2020.

"Such a target will be reached following the improvement of cocoa development by the people at the commodity`s production centers in Aceh," FKA chairman Hasanuddin Darjo said on Monday.

He said Aceh has around 70,000 hectares of cocoa farm with the productive land of 40 thousand hectares.

"That is why Aceh exports around 15-20 thousand tons of dried cocoa beans to a number of countries," Hasanuddin said.

Meanwhile, Vice Minister of Trade Mahendra Siregar has ever said that Indonesia has a great opportunity to be the largest cocoa producer in the world for its ability to produce cocoa beans in large enough quantities.

He said at the time that as the number three in world`s largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast and Ghana, Indonesia should increase its production of the commodity.

Besides boosting the production, he said the quality of Indonesian cocoa should also be improved because the commodity had special characteristics that were not owned by other countries.

Indonesia has earlier exported about 80 percent of its cocoa beans, but with the imposition of the export tax, exports could be cut for domestic grinders.

The government hopes that in 2011 its exports of cocoa beans would drop from 80 percent to 50 percent.

The government has since April 1, 2010 imposed a 15 percent tax on cacao bean exports in order to boost local processing industry and increase the added value of farmers cacao production.

About 93 percent of Indonesia`s 1.5 million hectares of cocoa plantations are owned by smallholders.

According to the Indonesian Cocoa Association, the cocoa bean exports from Indonesia`s main growing region of Sulawesi island increased 2.1 percent last year.

The shipments from the world`s third biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient rose to 280,708 metric tons in 2010 from 274,887 metric tons in 2009, according to data from the association.

"Cocoa output in 2010 did not increase much because rainy weather disrupted harvests, and shipments were delayed," Indonesian Cocoa Association spokesman Zulhefy Sikumbang has said.

Sulawesi accounts for about 75 percent of total output and overseas sales of the commodity from the Southeast Asian nation.

Therefore the West Sulawesi governor said the province would continue to maintain its cocoa production as national commodity and to develop it to increase the national economic growth.

He said the cocoa plant would be included into 18 categories of superior commodities to step up the national economic growth.

"The central government earlier did not include cocoa into

18 categories of superior seed plants to be nationally developed in an effort to step up national economic growth," he said.

But he added that West Sulawesi provincial government would maintain cocoa and continue to develop it as a mainstay commodity in this country.

The West Sulawesi governor said that following the Indonesian government announcement of a large national program for the revitalization of cocoa industry, known as Gernas Pro Kakao, around 25 provinces in 2011 would implement the program.

So according to Antonius Pasaribu, the 5th Indonesian International Cocoa Conference organizing committee chairman, issues related to the business of cocoa commodity would also be discussed in the conference.

He said that to be held at Westing Hotel in Nusa Dua, the conference will be attended by a number of world`s cocoa organizations, namely International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), Cocoa Merchants Association of America (CMAA), Ghana Cocoa Broad (GCB), Cocoa Association of Asia (CAA), Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), and Malaysia Cocoa Board.