The Formal handing over ceremony of the Physical Cocoa and Coffee Testing/Grading Equipment to Produce Monitoring Board PMB provided by SCADEP was held on Thursday 11th March 2021 in the presence of representatives from Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and Local Government and Rural Development, SCADeP, Produce Monitoring Board and the Media.
In his welcome address, the Director Produce Monitoring Board (PMB) Didan Sankoh said the Produce Monitoring Board is the regulatory agency established by an Act of Parliament in 2013 supervised by the Ministry of Trade to monitor and promote the production, processing, and marketing of produce.
He said, in previous years PMB was challenged with advanced technology Testing/ Grading Equipment. He said during those periods the institution had to seek support from Exporters to do a physical test on Cocoa. He noted with dismay that the integrity of the PMB was at stake.
Mr. Sankoh said SCADeP has also provided a physical test laboratory in Freetown which is managed by the Quality Control Department. He added that, now that a laboratory has also been established in Kenema, PMB will ensure all Cocoa beans tested before exportation and meet international market requirements and demands.
The Director however appreciated SCADeP for providing advanced technology grading equipment and laboratory in Kenema and the provision of eight motorbikes in support of extension services and cocoa quality assurance.
He assured SCADeP that the items provided will be used for their intended purposes.
Giving an overview of the donation, the Project Coordinator SCADeP Suliaman Sesay said SCADEP is a World Bank project under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry designed to improve agricultural productivity and increase income flows for Farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s).
He said SCADEP realizes that PMB is critical to what they are doing as a project, therefore SCADEP provides Market Access Improvement by ensuring Farmers are able to link feeder roads to productive areas to market.
The Project Coordinator said the provision of the equipment and Motorbikes to PMB is direct support from SCADEP’s component of the Capacity building for State and Non-State Institutions that provide services to Agric businesses as well as smallholder farmers.
He added that SCADEP aims to bridge the gap between the Smallholder farmers and agribusinesses as well as supporting those institutions that provide services to those actors along the produce value chain.
Mr. Sesay said the Produce Monitoring Board, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade, SLIEPA, SLARI, and Non-State institutions are implementing partners of SCADeP Project. He added that, since the start of the SCADeP Project in 2016, PMB is one of the key partners SCADeP has been in strong collaboration with. He continued that partnership with PMB will go a long way to help the Cocoa and coffee farmers in productivity and expose the tree crop sub-sector.
He said the major area of intervention of the SCADeP Project to PMB is supporting PMB in the quality improvement of Cocoa. He said SCADeP is pleased with PMB on its operations as implementing partner.
The District Officer Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Kenema branch, Philip Conteh highlighted some of the interventions of the Ministry. He said the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry does not only border on food security but now embarking on boosting capacity on tree cropping, for example, Cocoa. He said the Ministry also placed importance on enhancing the quality of Cocoa. He said once the quality of Cocoa is enhanced, farmers are bound to get premium in the international market and there will be a shift in the country’s economy.
He appreciated SCADeP for boosting the capacity of PMB in the area of extension service and providing a laboratory that will enhance the independence of PMB.
The Executive Chairman Produce Monitoring Board Dr. James Vibbi said he is extremely happy with the outcome of the project by providing another mini-laboratory in Kenema which is the hub of cocoa and coffee produce coming from Sierra Leone. He said SCADeP Project is one of the projects that look not only at the output but the impact which has been a challenge for many projects in the country.
According to the Executive Chairman, in the past, PMB was not adequately equipped to determine the quality of respective produce e.g., the moisture content, mold, slate, or extraneous matters without lending from partners. ‘With the support from SCADeP, Sierra Leone is now equivalent to Ivory Coast and Ghana’ Dr. Vibbi mentioned.
He said with the support from SCADeP, PMB is now fully equipped and will be in the position to robustly determine the quality of cocoa and coffee beans that evacuate out of the country that meets international market requirements before the issuance of a quality certificate.
The Executive Chairman thanked SCADeP for the support noting its importance in adding value to the work of PMB and boosting the integrity of the institution. He said the support by SCADeP will enable PMB to exercise its authority as a regulatory agency to the fullest.
‘It is the wish of PMB to have more Cooperatives access the international market because of the potential in becoming rich, Dr. Vibbi observed’.
He noted with pleasure that SCADeP Project is one of the most relevant projects in PMB and has impacted its operations.
The Executive Chairman called on the staff of PMB to use the equipment for their intended purposes and not to compromise standard.
The Quality Control Manager (PMB) Abdul Qadir Turay made a presentation on the uses of the Grading equipment provided by SCADEP. He said, “before receiving both supports from SCADeP, PMB’s technical team was using the manual means (the knife) to cut-test three hundred beans which have been a daunting task for them and consumes a lot of time. ‘With the provision of these advanced technology Testing/ Grading Equipment we will now cut fifty beans in less than a minute, Mr. Turay stated’.