The Twelve (12) Days Fact Finding Trek for the Development of the Produce Value Chain in the provinces (Kono, Kailahun, Kenema and Bo) was undertaken by the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB) under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) as per the recommendations of MDAs present in the One Day Fact Finding Symposium held in Freetown. The goal for the replication of the same exercise with stakeholders in the province was to create awareness about the existence and operations of the PMB and to foster the active involvement of the other produce sector operatives in the transformation of the sector.
The Introduction of the New Certificates and Licenses (export License, agent License, dealer License, store Certificate, evacuation Certificate, store Ledger, and reporting Form) took place in tandem with the Twelve (12) Days Trek in the provinces. During the three (3) days allocated to each district, the PMB engaged a total of 360 participants from Producer Organizations (POs), Commodity Associations (CAs), police, chiefdom, town, district and city councils, produce dealers, buying agents, exporters and the media.
The overall purpose of the Twelve Days Fact Finding Trek for the Development of the Produce Value Chain and the Introduction of the New Certificates and Licenses in the provinces was to call stakeholders to collaborate and cooperate with the PMB in transforming and bringing sanity into the produce trade for the benefit of all stakeholder along the value chain and the country as a whole.
Accordingly, the objectives of the undertaking were, to inform the various stakeholders about the existence of the PMB, to introduce the new certificates and licenses to the various stakeholders, to discuss issues affecting the produce sector, to gathering up-to-date information on the views of stakeholders and the activities of the produce sector in general.
Each meeting started with an introduction and overview of the PMB and the purpose of the visit. The second presentation was the identification of the various certificates and licenses and the importance, the third presentation was on quality related issues and the fourth presentation was on the regulatory stands of the PMB in ensuring that the new policy works.
In these meetings, participants were properly informed about the mandate, functions and responsibilities of the PMB. The essence of these meetings was to cultivate a wider participation of stakeholders in the sector. The new certificates and licenses were introduced as the tools which the PMB will be using to regulate the activities of all stakeholders operating within the sector.
The new certificates and licenses were designed to help the PMB to effectively and efficiently regulate and monitor the sector. The new documents will also enhance orderliness in the sector and facilitate the easy collection of data for statistical analysis and projections.
The last segment of every meeting was allocated for questions, discussions, suggestions and recommendations, and these elements were recorded for the board to look into their feasibility. Participants were encouraged to make individual contributions so as to ascertain the level of absorption of the mandate of the PMB and what they are expecting to see in the near future, thereby setting the stage for new policies to reflect the views and aspirations of stakeholders in the produce sector.