II. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
3. Cocoa industry
MCB was established in 1989 to take the responsibility of all activities related to the development of the cocoa industry under one organization. The main aim of MCB is to centralize all activities in order to make the industry more efficient and competitive. The rapid development of the industry in the 1980s and 1990s was impetus for the establishment of the centralized agency.
Several specific objectives had been laid down for MCB. Apart from expanding the cocoa market domestically as well as in traditional international markets, those objectives include: (a) improving the price of cocoa to ensure that the rate of return is profitable to the producers; (b) carrying out the grading of beans; (c) improving the quality of cocoa so that the use of cocoa will expand; (d) making the industry more efficient by increasing productivity and reducing the cost of production; and (e) making sure that the development of the cocoa industry is undertaken in harmony with the environment.
Achieving the above objectives is done through research, extension, market development, grading activities, registration, licensing and certification of exporters, importers, fermentation facilities, and any other activities involving the cocoa industry. The functions of MCB are clearly specified in the development strategies for the 1990s (Malaysian Cocoa Board, 1992).
Although MCB is at present understaffed, various research and development projects are being undertaken to benefit the producers and intermediaries in the industry. The three main areas of research and development on which the focus is being placed are chemistry and technology, biology, and techno-economic and market development. Research and development in the industry are undertaken in collaboration with other agencies that have related interests, such as the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority, Department of Agriculture of Sabah and Sarawak, FELDA and the Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, and also in tandem with the research units of the estate sector.
The process of increasing the viability of the industry through research and development is undertaken with strong commitment towards conservation and safe-guarding the environment. In fact, MCB stresses that cocoa is the most environmentally friendly product of any other crops. Issues like proper management of cocoa estates, zero burning and the encouragement of new techniques for the rehabilitation of old cocoa stands that avoid total clearing of land are given high priority.