Members of the high table from right to left: Mr. Shiaka Kawa, Mr. Marywhether C. Thompson, Capt. Momodu Alieu Pat-Sow, Dr. Jean Marc Anga, Mrs. Haja Isatu Kabba and Dr. Michele Nardella

The Produce Monitoring Board in its quest to improve on the dissemination of market information and the marketing capacity of our local Producer Organizations (POs), Cooperatives and smallholder cocoa farmers to make them more responsive to the challenges of the volatile commodity market, recently hosted the Final Workshop of the Price Risk Management (PRM) Strategy for Smallholder Cocoa Farmers in Africa, on the 21st of February 2017, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.

      The main objective of the project was to equip smallholder cocoa farmers in West Africa with the instrument and local capacity needed to put in place well designed and integrated measures to manage their exposure to the risks associated with the commodity market,  guarantee better production and stable price, understand the elements to consider while going into business agreements to achieve maximum benefit, achieve a more suitable long term outlook for the cocoa producing West African countries , even in the event where the world market price for cocoa is volatile or fluctuating.

The project was funded by the International Cocoa Organization and the Common Fund for Commodity (CFC) for four (4) beneficiary West African cocoa producing countries-namely Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo.

The Project was divided into the following components and was implemented independently in the respective beneficiary countries:

Component             1 – Awareness Rising,

Component             2 – Training of Trainers of Trainees for 20 Local experts and

Component             3 – Rollout Training for 75 participants from POs and cooperatives in all the

major cocoa producing districts in the country – Kono, Kailahun and Kenema.

Component             4 – The Final Workshop

Prior to implementing component one of the project, a Situation Analysis Survey was conducted, which laid the road map for implementation in the country. The aim of the Final Workshop was to bring together representatives from all the participating beneficiary countries in a single venue to discuss issues relating to price volatility, produce sales on discount and the development of smallholder cocoa farmers in the beneficiary countries.

The forum was also designed for participants to share their experiences (results) on the implementation of their local PRM strategy within their various entities, and to proffer measures that will empower the stakeholders, especially the smallholder cocoa farmers to mitigate the adverse consequences of any fluctuations in the world market price for cocoa.  This segment of the workshop was facilitated by the Project Manager of Twin, Suzzane Fogg.

The program was chaired by the Acting Executive Director of the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB), Mrs Haja Isatu Kabba, the keynote address of the occasion was given by the Honourable Minster of Trade and Industry (MTI), Captain Momodu Alieu Pat-Sow and the Guest of Honour of the workshop was the Executive Director of the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), Dr. Jean Marc Anga. The Chief Director MTI, Mr. Marywhether C. Thompson read the speech sent by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), as the organization was not represented in the workshop.

The Honourable Minister, in his keynote address emphasized the ministry’s role in providing the level playing field for Pos, cooperatives, farmers and agro-businesses to thrive in the produce sector of the Sierra Leone. He furthered that through several projects including the Agriculture for Development project, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) have been working together to help farmers form cooperatives and Agricultural Business Centers (ABCs) and also provide the necessary support for them to be able to compete with other businesses in the commodity market.

Show case of Sierra Leone Cocoa and its Products

He urged the PMB to double its effort in ensuring that the welfare of farmers is enhanced, as demonstrated in the implementation of the PRM project for smallholder farmers in the country. He furthered that the MTI is presently working on the review of the Fair Pricing System for farmers which is a key policy concern in ensuring that farmers achieve maximum benefit for their produce.

In his statement, Dr. Marc Anga mentioned that Sierra Leone has a particular significance in the cocoa sector of Africa, as “Sierra Leone was the first place for cocoa to be experimented” in the continent. He furthered that, after the terrible years that Sierra Leone has gone through, they are in Sierra Leone to show to the world that the country “is open to investment”. He continued by stating that among the three (3) million smallholder farmers in Africa, the issues of lack of investment, low yield and low price remain a major concern for the ICCO and there is a meeting scheduled to take place in Ivory Coast where these issues will be part of the agenda.

Among the many presentations that were made, a presentation was made on “A Patient Social Investor” by the International Solidarity for Development Investment (SIDI), and an analysis of the current trend of the cocoa market was done by Michelle from the ICCO .

The hosting of the final PRM workshop in Freetown has benefited the country in the following ways;

      1. Rebranding the country’s cocoa sector, as this is the first time for ICCO to visit Sierra Leone.
      2. Serving as an eye opener to the fact that, Sierra Leone’s cocoa sector is filled with a lot of potentials and opportunities for foreign direct investment and development.
      3. Motivating our local farmers, as this is the first time for most of our local farmers to meet and share experience with other farmers from other African cocoa producing countries.

 

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