Madam Kabba who was speaking to this medium on the significance of the conference said the ICCO called for the promotion of policies and actions in order empower farmers and ensure that their voices are heard along the cocoa value chain, thereby increasing their negotiating skills for better pricing in the World Market.
As she said the conference encouraged cocoa farmers to strengthen their position at national level through Farmer-Based Organizations (FBOs) and further invited them to collaborate more closely at international level, articulating in one voice, and to be fully engaged in the ICCO Consultative Board and other key international fora.
She said national cocoa institutions as well as the cocoa and chocolate industries were urged at to improve recognition, preservation and evaluation of cocoa diversity through promotion and awareness-raising in relation to its quality.
This the PMB Boss said is because consumers expect high quality cocoa beans to be used in the manufacture of cocoa and chocolates products which according to her is similar to cocoa growers who expect extra efforts to be made in producing quality beans.
According to Madam Kabba’s report amongst the recommendations put forward at the conference, in line with the Global Cocoa Agenda, was improving the living income for farmers; raising women’s voices and attracting a new generation of farmers; marketing of good quality cocoa, sustainability and origin, promoting innovation and cocoa farm models of the future.
She said Africa remains the largest source of cocoa production accounting for 72% of the global cocoa production with most that coming from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, whilst the production from SL falls within the 2% of the rest of Africa.
For this reason she said that the conference took cognizance and agreed to intensify efforts in implementing the Global Cocoa Agenda, which she said is the roadmap to sustainable cocoa development.
She noted key priority areas the Produce Monitoring Board in Sierra Leone would take advantage of going forward, in the discharge of its functions in line with its mandates in ensuring the export of quality produce.
“Despite most cocoa farmers in Sierra Leone are not aware of how farmers are exploited in the international cocoa market, the PMB would motivate farmers to scale up their plantations and processing practices because there is an ever increasing demand for cocoa with the emergence of new markets like China” the PMB Boss maintained, intimating further that it was clearly reported at the conference that by year 2020, there will be a shortage on the supply of cocoa in the world market, therefore the need for producers to proffer augment their production for such demand was emphasized.
She said the ICCO sponsored a farmer representative from Sierra Leone who could not attend the conference because of visas problems.
She mentioned that a major decision made by the International Cocoa Organization was the relocation of its headquarters office to the largest African producer, Cote d’Ivoire, which will take effect in 2017, with the construction of a modern and state of the art building. This move was initiated by the Ivorian government as a way of reducing the administrative cost to the International Cocoa Organization, but also for the African producers and governments to have quick access to the organization and be better served.