Indonesia yielded 450,000 tonnes of cocoa last year, lower than over 453,000 tonnes seen in the previous year, due to harsh weather and aging plants.

The stagnant production started since 2007 when the output was recorded at more than 525,000 tonnes after reaching a peak of 620, 000 tonnes in 2006, said Chairman of the Indonesian Cocoa Association (Askindo) Zulhefi Sikumbang.

Askindo’s data showed that after scaling down to over 520,000 tones, the production bounced back to nearly 558,000 tonnes in 2010, and dropped to about 465,000 tonnes a year later.

It seeks to ramp up the downstream sectors by bolstering value-added products domestically, said Sikumbang, adding that along with a Government support scheme, Askindo plans to build chocolate industry starting from 2015, as the supply of raw materials is abundant.

The Trade Ministry has decided to set an import quota of 100, 000 tonnes of cocoa beans to back the domestic industry. It also plans to cut cocoa import tax to zero from the existing 5 percent.

Indonesia is now the third biggest cocoa producer, behind Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.-VNA