A five-day training workshop organized by the International Trade Centre under the NTFTV Mano River Cocoa Value Chain Development Project in collaboration with the Produce Monitoring Board on Cocoa Quality Management was held at Dorwaila Inn in Kenema.
The training which lasted from the 14th– 18th November, 2019 targeted staff of Produce Monitoring Board, Exporters, Development Partners, Cooperative groups in the Produce Value Chain aimed at identifying key challenges, opportunities and proffer solutions in enhancing quality in the Sierra Leone’s Cocoa sector.
The two consultants were Rupert Day and Graham Laird from United Kingdom made their presentations on two deliverables which were; good Agricultural Practices and Cocoa Quality Improvement.
They spoke on the challenges affecting the Sierra Leone’s Cocoa Sector which include storage, fermentation, and packaging among others and proffer solutions in improving the sector.
According to the Consultants, research has proven that Sierra Leone has one of the best cocoa beans in World and therefore urged the participants to ensure quality is enhanced in the Sierra Leone Cocoa sector.
The Executive Chairman Produce Monitoring Board Dr. James Vibbi welcomed the consultants and the participants to the five-day training to share experiences on how Produce Monitoring Board should take the lead in ensuring quality is enhanced in the Sierra Leone Cocoa Sector.
He said the training is very important to PMB as it will enable staff to be well capacitated with the requisite skills in enhancing quality in Cocoa to compete with the International market.
He informed the gathering that Sierra Leone is working hard to improve on the quality of produce, and therefore will be prudent for government to put in place policies that will regulate quality in the Sierra Leone Cocoa sector to meet international standard.
He said those policies will guide exporters in quality enhancement nad any defaulters should not be granted Exporters’ certificate.
Dr. Vibbi said the Sierra Leone’s Cocoa has started gaining International recognition as one of the country’s farmer Sahr Bangura had won award for best quality cocoa twice on PMB’s Quality Produce Fair and recently his sample was selected among the top 50 samples among 166 countries. He said because of that Sahr Bangura was awarded at the Cocoa of Excellence Programme in Paris an invitation from Salon Du Chocolat Biodiversity International.
He called on the participants particularly PMB staff to take the training very serious noting that it will help them to understand quality improvement and the strategies PMB will use to monitor quality.
The Director of Produce Monitoring Board Didan Sankoh said the training will help improve the quality of cocoa in the Sierra Leone Cocoa sector so that by 2021 Sierra Leone will be among the best 10 to 20 cocoa producing countries in the world.
He said it is expected that the knowledge gained from the 45 participants be replicated to other members in the Produce Value chain so that quality is enhanced in the Sierra Leone Cocoa sector.
A Cocoa farmer, Musa Bockarie said that the training was timely because they have gained more knowledge on Cocoa Quality Management which will positively impact on the Sierra Leone Cocoa market.
He appealed to PMB and ITC to continue to empower them with training of such nature which will contribute to the improvement of the Sierra Leone Cocoa sector.