Speaking to farmer cooperatives at the PMB office in Kenema, Ambassador Kaiser Araujo told farmers that his embassy is keen to work with the PMB to support cocoa farmers in Sierra Leone. He spoke of the fruitful meeting he held with Dr. James Vibbi and the PMB Operations Coordinator, Didan Sankoh in Freetown earlier this month.
Ambassador Kaiser said the Brazilian Embassy is looking to partner with the PMB to help improve the quality and quantity of cocoa production in the country, based on a project proposal that the PMB submits to the Embassy for funding by the Government of Brazil.
He commended Dr. James Vibbi for his leadership of the PMB and for his pro-activeness in trying to develop the country’s agriculture industry and attract more investors, especially the cocoa sector.
Addressing farmers, the Executive Chairman of the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB), Dr. James Vibbi spoke about the mandate of the PMB, which he said is to regulate, promote and improve the production, processing and marketing of farming produce in order to optimize the export earnings of farmers; and encourage the production of quality produce that meet international standards.
He said that his aim is to achieve the vision of President Julius Maada Bio and the New Direction government, assuring farmers that under his leadership the transformation of the PMB will be visible in the country.
“From the practical experience gained from framers, we discovered that there are a lot of challenges in terms of quality, lack of scholarship in the area of under-bushing, lack of pre-financing, lack of new techniques and technology. Most of the cocoa trees are very old and in need of rehabilitation and replacement in order to increase production yield,” Dr. Vibbi said.
Speaking about how best to improve quality cocoa production in the country, Dr. Vibbi explained to the Brazilian Ambassador that “PMB is presently engaging several institutions in the cocoa value-chain to see how to address those challenges; and as an institution we are now in the process of procuring quality testing equipment such as moisture meters, magra-cutter/guillotine, sensitive scale, thermometers, hand lenses, etc.; as well as establishing produce testing mini laboratory at the PMB office in Freetown.
He added that recently, he engaged the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone in discussions, exploring possibilities for establishing partnership working between the Chinese Embassy and the PMB.
On their part, the farmers said they are delighted to have the Brazil Ambassador visiting their farms. They expressed thanks and appreciation to Dr. Vibbi and his new team of innovative thinkers at the PMB for creating such business development opportunity.
The Ambassador visited four cocoa farms owned by the Teibor Cooperative in Kenema District, the Kpandebu Dama Cooperative in Kenema District, the Tonbolu Cooperative in Kailahun District, and the Maloma Cooperative in Kailahun District.