The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) has conducted a four-day Market Access, Value Chine and Product Certification Training for Exporters and Agribusinesses along the export value chain. The training occurred in Kenema and Bo Districts from the 31st July -3rd August 2019.
In his statement, the SLIEPA Acting Director of Export Development, Mr. Bobson Margai, said, SLIEPA is mandated to facilitate investment and to promote export in Sierra Leone; saying that the training was geared towards building the participants’ capacity on the niceties involve in developing their products to add value, increasing export volume, accessing bigger markets and obtaining product certification to gain competitive advantage in local and international markets.
When declaring the training opened, the Chairman Board of Directors of SLIEPA, Mr. Jonathan George, said President Bio has worked hard to rebrand the image of the country to attract investors for the good of all, therefore, he encouraged the participants to take advantage of such efforts to set the stage for economic development by increasing the quality and volume of their products to meet international market standards. He beseeched them to apply individual efforts in achieving such target being that they are the backbone of the Country’s economy.
The Chief Executive Officer of SLIEPA, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, also encouraged all the participants to put the training into better use and transform it into innovative ideas to develop their products for export and economic generation. He said, based on their effort and credibility, SLIEPA will connect them with investors who promote their products along the value chain. He noted that, no country will develop without feeding itself, therefore he enthused them and all other Sierra Leoneans to complement the effort of the New Direction Under the leadership of President Maada Bio by working hard in a bid to develop and change the economic narratives of the Country.
According to Mr. Philip Conteh, District Agricultural Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Kenema, the Ministry has five years strategic plan from which the Kenema Branch has prioritized tree crops and targeted at least to do fifty hectares of tree crops annually, but to benefit from this he said, there must be value addition in terms of processing and export for which they appreciate SLIEPA for its capacity building trainings along those lines.
When offering the training, Mr. David Bartholomew, the Training Consultant, covered topics such as Product Development and Certification Schemes, Market Identification and Linkages, Value Chain and Access to Finance for SMEs.
The beneficiaries of the training appreciated SLIEPA for an exceptional capacity building. They committed to practising the knowledge acquired and cascade it to their colleagues as Mrs. Hawa Agnes Bio, Head of Moamia Women’s Cooperative, a garri processing factory in Koribondo, Bo District, said the training was important to them because they learned the route to expansion, value addition and export
Other speakers included, Mr. Henry Fofanah, SLIEPA Manager of Export Development, Mr. Alex J Mammy, SLIEPA Head of Provincial Offices and Deputy Director, Dr. Brima James, Mr. Mahinda Wahome a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Consultant in Sierra Leone working on cassava and cassava product assessment to meet international standard for export.
The training ended with awarding of certificates to all the participants.