As a way of strengthening the relationship with farmers as well as motivating them to be able to produce more cacaos in the coming season backed up by the initiative to strengthen the operations of institutions under her Ministry, the erudite acting Minister of Trade and Industry, Madam Mabinty Daramy has tours Cacao plantation sites in the Bo, Kenema, Kailahun and Kono Districts. Madam Mabinty Daramy was alongside with the acting Director of the Produce Monitoring Board, Madam Isatu Haja Kabbah during the plantation visits in the Districts. Since 2014, the Trade Minister and the Produce Monitoring Board had not been able to tour to the farmers due to the Ebola outbreak.
Through the direct supervision of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Produce Monitoring Board is tasked with the responsibilities of promoting effective production, processing and marketing of high quality produce and the monitoring and evaluation of the prices and of quality of produce such as Cocoa, Ginger, Coffee and other cash crops in the country.
The production of cash crop is the main reason why the acting Minister led the delegation during the visit to farmers. Although the farm sites were situated in terrible environments and destinations, the acting Minister said she must not be told to see how farmers are struggling to cope with their cocoa plantations. She said as a trade minister, she need to see what is going on the bush and be able to see how they can assist farmers to produce more cocoa for the international market.
The move by the acting Minister, Madam Mabinty Daramy was heartily welcome by cocoa farmers who expressed their appreciation for the gesture showed by the acting Minister of Trade and Industry and acting Director of Produce Monitoring Board.
During the field visits to the farmers, Madam Mabinty Daramy expressed the importance of maintaining the cocoa as well as ensuring and maintaining best practices in harvesting the cocoa for maximum profits to the farmers as well as to the nation. Right at their plantation sites, the acting Trade Minister encouraged all cocoa farmers in all the cocoa producing Districts to make sure they clean up their plantations and allow air into the plantations so that there will be no black pod disease from the cocoa. Speaking in Kailahun, Madam Mabinty Daramy explained the work of her Ministry and that of the produce Monitoring Board adding that the latter is responsible for issuing export license for cash crops such as cocoa, palm oil, coffee etc. while the councils only issue evacuation certificates.
Madam Daramy noted that as government, they are not happy about the prices of produce given to farmers as against the prices they announced last year which is not for buyers but for the interest of the farmers. She however encouraged the farmers not to be tempted by the buyers to pay cheaply for their cocoa and admonished them to make sure they allow their cocoa to mature before harvesting.
Warning buyers in Kono before going to the Cocoa sites, the acting Trade Minister said the government of Sierra Leone established the Produce Monitoring Board in other to assist producers, marketers as well as seeking the interest of the government. She encouraged the buyers to desist from such practices and always ensure they provide the best prices for the farmers.
Madam Mabinty Daramy on behalf of her Ministry made a pledge to always ensure they support the farmers to produce best and quality cocoa in the country. The acting Minister of Trade and Industry, Madam Mabinty Daramy through the Produce Monitoring Board after realizing the constraints of the people promised to provide resources for under-brushing and loan for the buying of coffee and hauler for some of the farmers.
She encouraged farmers to maintain good farm hygiene for better yields of their plantations. She emphasised that they should allow air and ventilation for their plantations as a means of eradicating the black pod disease from their cocoa farms. She rationed that due to the restriction of movement as a result of the Ebola epidemic, farmers were able to observe and spend extra time into processing of their produce, which made the quality of cocoa sold this year to be one of the best in the world market. As a way of showing her appreciation to farmers on behalf of her ministry, madam Mabinty Daramy made a pledge to always ensure the support of farmer to produce best quality cocoa in the country