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Sierra Leone News: 2nd quality produce fair targets market expansion

Over 200 farmers will take part in this year’s 2nd Quality Produce Fair (QPF) organized by Produce Monitoring Board (PMB) with the objective of creating a platform for buyers and sellers in the produce market to meet thereby expanding the market. Producers Organizations, Cooperatives, Exporters, mainly in the Agribusiness Industry, will take part in this fair from 12-16 December, 2018 in Kenema. The QPF was designed in line with Pillar (1) of the Agenda for Prosperity (A4P)- focusing on agriculture -both small and larger scale subsistence and cash crop production through agribusiness development and economic diversification. James Vibbi, Executive Chairman PMB said that the fair will guide them to ensure quality control and in so doing expand the market. With this year’s theme being “Quality produce for market expansion,” EC Vibbi says they want to see how they can take produce in terms of quality to expand the market, “so when the market is expanded it will generate the attention of the youths to concentrate on farming (and) that will broaden the economic scope of the country” he said. The fair will showcase six key produce, which are measurable for competition and quality globally. These are cocoa, ginger, coffee, rice, cashew nut and palm oil. Other produce he said will be honey production, country cloth weaving and machinery for packaging and branding. The first fair which was held in Bo in 2017 brought together participants that were drawn from the agribusiness, corporate, private and entertainment sectors, amounting to 60 farmer organizations, 7 exporters, 5 local processors, 6 corporate institutions, 5 entertainment complexes and 11 foreign participants from Ghana and Benin, totalling 94 participating entities. He went on to say that it will be another opportunity to showcase the potential that is in the produce sector as there are a lot of things that are hidden. Value addition he said has taken place in the cocoa sector where it is being ground into chocolate powder, which people are unaware of and they are working towards getting it to the international market. The country he said has one of the best cocoa products in the world, which was evident during Sierra Leone’s participation in the Cocoa of Excellence Awards 2017 as the country’s sample was selected among the first 50 best samples that were submitted by 166 competing countries. This he said was best quality award, which was achieved irrespective of the country’s size and the volume of production, “but the quality should be our strength so that other people in other businesses will join this sector and try to expand in quality and volume.” The farmers he said will be interacting with officials from Sierra Leone Investment & Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) and Sierra Leone Standards Bureau on investment opportunities and to educate them about international market standards for their produce to be accepted. In the mid-term, the PMB is preparing as a nation to host a Sierra Leone-European produce fair, which will provide the opportunity for the investors to see what the country has. That can only happen when a local fair is organised so that first-hand information on what we have and how we can improve it. In addition, the Social Welfare Ministry he said will be part of the fair to talk to farmers about the issue of gender based violence especially when it relates to the right of the girl child and what is expected of them.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Monday December 10, 2018.

 

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