The World Cocoa and Chocolate Day is the brain-child of the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and the Académie Française du Chocolat et de la Confiserie, the event could be celebrated on any date from the 1st to the 31st of October every year. The World Cocoa Day is celebrated in recognition of the living conditions of cocoa growers worldwide and to create a sense of awareness among consumers and the public in an effort to build a sustainable world cocoa economy.
The first World Cocoa Day celebration held on the 30th October 2015, in Kenema District in the Eastern part of Sierra Leone was spearheaded by the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB) under the Ministry of Trade and industry (MTI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA), MTI and Welt Hunger Hilfe (WHH). The celebration was held with the theme “Promote Cocoa Farmers towards Prosperity”. The goal of the celebration was to inspire and motivate farmers and other members of the cocoa value chain (VC) on issues of sustainability and expansion of the cocoa sector in the country.
Since the Eastern and Southern regions of Sierra Leone are the major cocoa producing areas, the celebration was held there to create public awareness and a sense of pride among cocoa farmers. Naturally a viable cocoa sector will attract private/foreign investments and the expansion of the industry. All the stakeholders of the Cocoa Value Chain were present for the celebration in Kenema to participate in the ambiance of moving the sector forward. The event was celebrated to give new meanings to the strides of the different stakeholders to build a sustainable cocoa industry capable of diversifying the economy of the country and further strengthen members along the cocoa value chain.
It is in this direction that the PMB seeks to see the implementation of policies geared towards building a new cocoa economy based on quality enhancement, introduction of Improved Vegetal Materials (IVMs), increased production and value addition. The World Cocoa Day celebration held in Kenema, facilitated the showcasing of cocoa and other local produce of Sierra Leone. The celebration was also a clear demonstration of unity and the combined efforts of MDAs, NGOs, farmers, farmer groups, cooperatives, produce dealers and exporters, as all of them came together to colourfully grace the occasion.
Subsequent World Cocoa Day celebrations are expected to bring greater coherence among stakeholders operating within the sector and to usher greater energy, enthusiasm and efficiency as we progress to modernize this once great industry in these trying years of the country’s economy.
The celebration was marked by talks (speeches) from the various institutions and members of the value chain treating topics and issues of concern to the development of the cocoa and produce sector in general. Participants witnessed cultural and drama performances from Farmer Groups and the ceremony was climaxed with inspection of boots by stakeholders.