The Capacity Needs Assessment Report Validation Workshop was held on the 5th December 2017, and the program was chaired by the Mr. Mary Whether Thompson, Chief Director Ministry of Trade and Industry. The event brought together 35 members from other institutions – Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau (SLSB) – operating in the produce sector, representatives from farmer groups and staff of PMB in a single venue to discuss the validity of the assessment report.
The Capacity Needs Assessment (CNA) for PMB was planned, organized and conducted under the auspices of the Smallholder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP), a World Bank funded project to support state and non-state actors in funding their development programs. The assessment was conducted in August 2017 by a capacity building consultant, Mr. Hassan Jalloh, hired by the Project.
The purpose of the assessment was to determine the organizational capacity needs of PMB across all spectrums including leadership, governance, management, human resource development, financial resources, service delivery, sustainability, coordination and monitoring and evaluation. The findings from the assessment formed the basis for developing the capacity building trajectories and staff training manual for the PMB.
According to the CAN report, the structure and operations of the assessment was done at three levels; firstly, desk study of available reports and documents pertaining to the PMB was done. This was followed by one-on-one discussions between the consultant and PMB staff. Thereafter, at departmental level focus group discussions were conducted where managers had the opportunity to highlight some of the main challenges affecting their work.
Self-Assessment and Staff Training Assessment tools were also employed to enhance the outcomes of the assessment. These tools were key parameters uniquely and powerfully used in assessing the overall PMB internal structure, systems and procedures as well as its external operating environment in the country.
The findings of the assessment revealed inadequacies in various capacity areas in the organization. The findings and recommendations were obtained from the Departmental Focus Group Discussions, meetings with senior staff and from findings obtained through the self-assessment tools during three separate discussion sessions in Freetown and in Kenema. A total of 50 staff members from Bo, Kono, Kailahun participated in the discussion sessions in Kenema together with PMB staff operating within the district.
The findings as discussed above and the following recommendations were thoroughly deliberated and the endorsement of report was done by Mrs. Haja Isatu Kabba, Acting Executive Director, Produce Monitoring Board.
Capacity Needs Assessment Report Recommendations
- A Board of Directors should be instituted as a matter of priority and critical vacancies (Director of Finance and Administration, and Director of Operations) filled at PMB for the satisfactory execution of functions as stipulated in the PMB Act 2013.
- Implement staff training and capacity building trajectories for enhanced competencies in the core business of PMB. This will contribute to programme and organizational sustainability.
- Regarding Produce Inspection Unit as key department within PMB, the recommendations are as follows:
- Produce inspection guidelines (CAP 185) should be reviewed, popularized and stakeholders especially farmers capacitated on its applications.
- The current Produce Inspection Unit (PIU) should be overhauled, delinked from MAFFS and MTI, renamed Quality Control/Management Unit and staff (previously Produce Inspectors and Produce Examiners) should carry same job title i.e. Quality Control Officers. Staff exposure visits within the sub-region should be encouraged. They should also be trained on Produce Quality Control/management, deployed with reviewed job descriptions and materials and equipment provided to them to be able to carry out timely field operations and activities.
- PMB through the Quality Control Unit should broaden its scope of crops/produce as stipulated by its mandates. There should be a renewed focus on emerging crops for example cashew in addition to the existing traditional export/cash crops cocoa, coffee, palm oil, ginger etc.