With support from the Smallholder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP), the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) has from the 13th -18th September 2019, conducted market linkage and value chain training for agribusinesses in Moyamba and Pujehun Districts.
The objective of the workshop was to train farmers and entrepreneurs along the export value chain to understand Product Development and Certification Schemes, Market Identification and Linkages, Value Chain and Access to Finance for Agribusinesses.
When giving an overview of the operations of SLIEPA, the Acting Director of Export Development, Mr. Bobson Margai on behalf of the Chairman Board of Directors, Mr. Jonathan George and the CEO, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, thanked the stakeholders for their hospitable reception and explained that SLIEPA is mandated by Parliament to promote Investment and Export in Sierra Leone on cost free. He went on to say that SLIEPA doesn’t provide grants or loans, but it provides technical services and as well lobbies to development partners for available opportunities on behalf of its constituents.
He added that the workshop would enlighten the participants on how to source and maintain bigger markets, add value to their products and prepare their minds for export. Under the new leadership of the CEO, SLIEPA will give equal chance to all the districts to benefit from whatever opportunities the Agency has, hence, the reason for choosing Moyamba and Pujehun Districts for the workshops, said Mr. Margai.
Also, the Agricultural District Officer of Moyamba, Mr. Osman Kamara, said SLIEPA is an Agency that helps farmers through its technical trainings. He noted that the training was apt as it was in-line with the Government’s agenda for agricultural development. He encouraged the participants to divulge the knowledge gained to other farmers.
In his statement, the Deputy Chairman of the Pujehun District Council, Mr. Mohamed Mansaray, appreciated SLIEPA for embarking on such training. He said that the council has huge responsibilities which are very challenging to execute all by itself except with the aid of development partners such as SLIEPA. He urged the participants to treat the event with maximum seriousness and to put the knowledge into practice as a way of actualizing result and progress.
In a power point presentation, Mr. Jackson Kamara, an Export Development Officer of SLIEPA and facilitator of the workshop, taught the participants various topics ranging from Market Linkages, Strategy for Identifying Profitable markets, the concept of Value Chain, Product Development and Certification Schemes, Regulations & Standards, Branding and Packaging and Sources of Finance.
Furthermore, the beneficiaries of the trainings welcomed SLIEPA with appreciation for rolling out such activities in their Districts for the very first time; as Madam Massah Mallah, head of “Women’s Unity Group” in Pujehun, said that their group contains thirty members who cultivate various agricultural products and Joseph Foday Mattia, Farm Manager of the “Heritage Farm” in Moyamba, also noted that they plant cassava, groundnut, Yam and maize on twenty five acres of land with three hundred and fifty mounts of yam.
They confirmed that the farm gate method of marketing has not been benefiting them; therefore they thanked SLIEPA for teaching them different methods of market linkages and value addition for productivity.
Other speakers included: Mr. Andrew Mambu, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Pujehun, Mr. Foday T. Sonnie, representative of the Moyamba District Council and Mr. Aminu Sandy, Deputy Chief Administrator of Pujehun District Council.
The training ended with awarding of certificates followed by site visits.