In its quest to promote farmer cooperatives in the country including the Western Area, the Produce Monitoring Board has provided farming tools and repaired rice milling machine for the Ogoo Farmers’ Association as winners of the Best Rice Framer category during the 2018 Quality Produce Fair Awards. This support is part of The Quality Produce Fair that is conducted by PMB every December. During the Quality Produce Fair, farmers from across the country are invited to Kenema to showcase their produce and the quality of their produce. This is a 5-day event that happens every December. On the 2nd day of the event, produce samples are taken from farmers by the quality control department of PMB for analysis and the 1st three farmers/cooperatives are awarded per produce analyzed. These awards help to motivate farmers to invest their time and other resources in good farm management and quality assurances processes and procedures during post-harvest.
The Quality Produce Fair is also an entry point for producers to participate in the PMB’s annual competition and recognizes the work of farmers with awards annually.
The following are the rationale for the awards;
- To award Farmers’ Cooperative Groups for providing best quality produce in the 2018 Quality Produce Fair.
- To motivate farmers to be committed in quality production in the agribusiness sector
- To develop farmers’ capacity to be able to compete in the International market
The award of prizes to deserving farmers started in 2017 when the Produce Monitoring Board had its first Quality Produce Fair in Bo Coronation Field, Bo City.
In the 2018 Quality Produce Fair, a total of fourteen awards were given to Farmers’ Cooperatives in the East, South, North and Western area, and the total sum of these awards is One hundred and thirty million, one hundred and twenty five thousand, six hundred and twenty five Leones ( Le.130,125,625.000)
Following the announcement of award winners and the price for each winner in monetary terms, a needs assessment was conducted by the Quality Control Department to identify the felt needs of the winners and a joint decision was made in terms of the items the winners will need, and these were bought by PMB in the presence of winners and handed over to them.
The Ogoo Farmers’ Association– Western Area won the 1st position for the Best Quality Rice Producer category and the price for this 1st position is ten million Leones (Le.10, 000,000).
Th following items were bought and given to the Association:
- watering cans (3)
- wheel barrows (3)
- cutlasses (5)
- rain boots (6)
- Repairing their rice milling machine (1)
The Chairlady Ogoo Farmers’ Association Madam Mariama Keita expressed delight for the items noting that these items will boost their farming work.
“ It is over two rice seasons that our rice processing machine had been out of working order and that negatively affected our rice processing output greatly” According to Mariama Keita because the rice processing machine was faulty, she has been on manual processing which was very challenging for her in terms of output and quality.
“I want to thank the Produce Monitoring Board for repairing our rice processing machine which will boost our processing output, and maintain quality. We have been in partnership with Produce Monitoring Board for over two years and we appreciate the technical and financial support we have been getting from them. We are very committed to continue the partnership”.
Madam Keita furthered stated that the rice they produce and process is called ‘ Paboil ‘, and that this is nutritious for lactating mothers, diabetic patients, reduces weight among others. She concluded that she is committed in promoting local content in Sierra Leone.
The 2018 awards were distributed in two phases; the first phase of the prizes is 50 % representing the sum of Sixty-Five Million, and Sixty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twelve Leones, Five Cents (Le. 65,062,812.5) The remaining 50 % representing the sum of Sixty-Five Million, and Sixty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twelve Leones, Five Cents (Le. 65,062,812.5) giving a total of One Hundred and Thirty Million, One Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Twenty-Five Leones (Le.130,125,625.000), which is about USD 13,000.
The funds used for these awards were part of the budget allocations to PMB from the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Finance.