By Foday Moriba Conteh
The International Trade Centre (ITC), in collaboration with the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB), has ended a five day cocoa quality for staff of PMB, development partners, exporters and cooperatives in the cocoa value chain with the main objective of helping to improve the quality of cocoa in Sierra Leone.
The aim of the training was to identify the challenges, opportunities and proffer solutions in enhancing quality in Sierra Leone cocoa.
The training was sponsored by the International Trade Centre and the Government of Sierra Leone. The workshop started from the 14th to the 18th November 2019 at the Dorwaila Inn and Suite Hotel in Kenema. The two consultants were Rupert Day and Graham Laird.
In their power point presentations, the two consultants delivered on different areas like the background of cocoa, cocoa beans processing and handing into semi-finished products, what strategic methods to be used to improve the quality of cocoa to meet international standard and separation of quality, challenges relating to improve cocoa quality in Sierra Leone, what are the causes of poor quality of cocoa in Sierra Leone, the health benefit of cocoa, cutting of cocoa beans, farm management, cocoa fermentation, how to nurse cocoa, how to use polythene bags and the challenges affecting cocoa farmers were all discussed.
In his statement, the Executive Chairman of Produce Monitoring Board, Dr. Vibbi said that the training is important to the Board. “Our job is actually to make sure that all produce sectors including cocoa, coffee and other produce get its quality for the international market,” he added, noting that it is very important that they have brought two consultants from United Kingdom with support from ITC to come and train their staff, farmers and exporters on the FCC rules and regulations which deal with quality.
He emphasized that policy that regulates quality is key and as PMB they are trying to review a lot of policies.
Dr. Vibbi underscored that training is a continuous process in the agency because they are dealing with a set of rules that changes every day, so when those changes takes place in the international market, it is our responsible to make sure that our workers, farmers, cooperatives and exporters are in line with those changes that takes place.
He informed that Sierra Leone is working hard to improve on the quality of produce, saying that there are set of rules relating to quality and any exporters that violate those rules will not have exporter’s certificate.
The Director of Produce Monitoring Board, Didan Sankoh, said that the training was mainly focused on quality enhancement of cocoa in the country and how cocoa farmers, exporters and PMB staff will improve on cocoa quality.
He noted that the training is very important because Sierra Leone has been pushing ahead to improve the quality of cocoa, adding that as Produce Monitoring Board they are responsible to ensure that any produce that is going out of the country should have quality, “That is why we thought it fit that our staff should be trained,” he pointed out.
He reiterated that just recently Sierra Leone has been recognized among the best cocoa producing country in the world, stating that this kind of training will help them to improve more on the quality of cocoa so that in 2021 Sierra Leone will be among the best 10 or 20 cocoa producing countries in the world
He disclosed that 45 participants were trained and he assured that they will extend such training to other cooperatives that were not part of the cocoa quality training.
According to one cocoa farmer, Musa Bockarie, the training was timely because it will help them improve their knowledge on cocoa processing and handling in order to improve its quality to meet the requirements of the international market.
He said that research has proven that Sierra Leone has one of the best cocoa beans in the world and appealed to PMB as well as ITC to continue such training for them which he noted will help them greatly.