8th October 2020: the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) has paid a follow-up visit to Kasiyatama Cocoa farmers’ Cooperative in Kono and as well embarked on engagement with some agribusinesses in Kambia District.
The follow-up visit as explained by the Acting Director of Export Development Department, Mr. Bobson Margai, was to have the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SLIEPA, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, interface with Kasiyatama Cocoa farmers’ Cooperative after realizing their tremendous efforts in the cocoa business.
Welcomingly, the Chairman of the Cooperative, Mr. Komba Issa, thanked SLIEPA for visiting them again which he said, manifested how trustworthy and serious the Agency is in supporting the growth of the local businesses. He informed the CEO that they are Fair Trade certified Cooperative that through Tradin Sierra Leone Limited, has exported 92.5 metric tons (MT) of cocoa in 2018, 176.625 MT in 2019 with a 300 MT target for 2020. He explained the formation of their membership including their developmental interventions in some of their operational locations in respect of their Fair Trade Certification. He appreciated the various trainings conducted by SLIEPA including its facilitated International Trade Centre (ITC) Quality Production Training.
The CEO of SLIEPA was impressed with Kasiyatama Cooperative counting on their level of effort and organization. He said it makes him happy to see Sierra Leoneans behind such businesses; noting that though SLIEPA does not provide financial support, but it can create link for the Cooperative to grab opportunities out there, saying that SLIEPA will stand by them to see that they succeed. He continued saying that the President, Brigadier (RTD) Julius Maada Bio, has declared the Country opened for business, hence, there should be serious local businesses like Kasiyatama that will partner with potential investors in order to satisfy the Local Content Policy.
In another engagement with agribusinesses in Port Loko and Kambia Districts, Mr. Bobson Margai, explained the formation and mandate of SLIEPA, being established in 2007 by an Act of Parliament to facilitate investment and Export. He said that SLIEPA reached out to them to profile their businesses and to understand their status looking at production, marketing and the impact of COVID-19 on their activities, in order to see how SLIEPA will intervene with technical supports where possible.
Among other speakers, Mr. David Kamara, Manager of Kam Cashew in Kambia District, warmly welcomed SLIEPA, saying that their cashew farm is established on 1,300 acres with improved variety of plants that bears fruits in 18 months as oppose to the old variety that took 5 years to bear fruit. He said they have a processing machine that produces 7 bags (50kg each) of cashew per ton. Like other speakers, he expressed the adverse impact of COVID-19 and the need for modern processing plant including markets for their products; concluding that they still have 2019 cashew that needs to be sold,
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