The Produce Monitoring Board and the International Trade Centre have ended a six-day (23rd March – 23rd -28th March 2020) training with Cocoa Cooperatives at the Albertson hall in Kenema.

The training was to enable Cocoa Cooperatives to understand Cocoa quality management processes, procedures and practices identify key opportunities and challenges in the Cocoa sector and proffer solutions in enhancing quality in the Cocoa sector in Sierra Leone.

The training attracted forty (40) participants from twenty (20) Cocoa Cooperatives drawn across Cocoa producing Districts, among which were six (6) women and thirty-four (34) Men, ten (10) PMB staff( two females and eight males), two staff(a male and female) from the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and one male staff from International Trade Centre.

In his opening statement, the Executive Chairman Produce Monitoring Board, Dr. James Vibbi said the training was a replication of a five-day training for Cocoa exporters on Cocoa Quality Management organised in November 2019. He said the Produce Monitoring Board placed importance in empowering Cocoa farmers and hopeful that the training will enhance their work and help them understand and practice Cocoa quality management practices and processes.

He said Cocoa is a major export Crop for Sierra Leone with high production and export levels before the civil war in the country, Dr. Vibbi said since then (i.e. the rebel war) not much rehabilitation has been done largely as a result of lack of finance and an understanding of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).  He, therefore, noted that enhancing the quality of Cocoa will not only boost the income levels of farmers but will improve the Cocoa sector in general and contribute to the country’s economy. He called on the Cooperatives to ensure they replicate to their general membership and practicalized on their farms what they have learnt.

The Director PMB Didan Sankoh admonished the participants to demonstrate a positive attitude in the training. He emphasized on the importance of the Cocoa sector to the development of Sierra Leone. He urged the Farmers to start investing in Cashew production as it has started gaining recognition in the international market.

Presentations on the following topics were facilitated by the PMB’s Quality Control Manager and Quality Control Supervisor, Mr. Abdul Qadir Turay and Osman Alpha Kargbo respectively.

  •  Overview of the Cocoa sector in Sierra Leone
  •    Previous experience
  •  Vision for the sector
  •    Key challenges and opportunities
  •    Pre-harvest
  •    Video on plantation Management
  •   Plenary discussions on the video, questions and answers
  •    Post-harvest
  •   Group work and presentation on post-harvest
  •    Cocoa good environmental practices
  •   Pre-harvest good practices
  •    Post- harvest good practices
  •    Federation of Cocoa Commerce quality requirements (as 70-80% of Cocoa beans from Sierra Leone are traded under FCC contracts)
  •    Federation of Cocoa Commerce shipment guidelines and Video on Container stuffing
  •    Plenary discussion on the video (understanding stuffing process and procedures)
  •    Cut- test practical.

Making a presentation on Financial Proposal writing tips, the Director PMB, Mr. Didan Sankoh said it is important that potential business Cooperatives have knowledge on developing financial proposals as it will help boost their business and their Cooperatives. He said a good financing proposal conveys a lasting impression of the individual and his/her Company on the financing institution. It also allows others to assess the chances of success for such businesses. He however, encouraged the Cooperatives to follow the proper procedures in developing financial proposals in order to attract funding for their businesses.

According to Mr. Sankoh, the Produce Monitoring Board is putting modalities in place to provide a seven- day lecture for Cooperatives on developing Business Plan.

The Country Coordinator, International Trade Centre (ITC) Abdul Wahab Lera Shaw said the ITC is the creation of the United Nations (UN) and World Trade Organisation.

He also stated that the ITC is involved in projects providing trade technical assistance in Countries all over the world. In Sierra Leone the ITC is supporting Cocoa related activities through the Netherlands Trust Fund (NTFIV) project, he maintained. He said the International Trade Centre (ITC) is partnering with PMB, SLIEPA, Ministry of Trade and other agricultural agencies.

A Female Participant of Moawoma Cooperative Yatta Samah said, ‘I am grateful to the Produce Monitoring Board and the International Trade Centre for been gender-sensitive in organising this one in a million training’.

‘I have been empowered on the different processing of Cocoa which includes; separation, fermentation, bagging, storage among others.’ With the training, I can now identify good Cocoa which contributes to enhancing quality in the Cocoa Sector in Sierra Leone’ she maintained.

Madam Yatta continued ‘I will replicate what I have learnt to my Colleagues in Moawoma Cooperative members and my field workers so that they will be able to effectively compete by presenting quality Cocoa in the international market.’ She concluded.

Another participant from Tegloma Cooperative Mr.  Alycious Ngegba said, ‘I am delighted to go through the training, I am now knowledgeable on how to process Cocoa to meet the international quality requirement, how to trade and its benefits to Farmers and the country’ he noted.

The distribution of certificates climaxed the ceremony.

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