With support from the International Trade Centre (ITC) through it West Africa Competitiveness Project (WACOMP), the Sierra Leone Chamber of Agribusiness Development (SLeCAD) on the 22nd to 24th February,2023, conducted three-day training for 30 Agribusiness Companies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Cooperatives on advocacy skills and public private dialogue.
The training was hosted at the Royal Hotel, Magbroka Road in Makeni and participants were drawn from Kono, Tonkolili, Port Loko, Kambia, Bombali, Western Area Urban and Rural district.
The objective of the training was to build on the advocacy and lobbying capacities of existing cooperatives, SMEs, Agribusiness companies and sector associations to improve on the Business Environment and Trade Integration for the Cocoa, Cassava and Palm Oil value chains in Sierra Leone.ITC has been working in close cooperation with SLeCAD, an organization with long standing expertise and broad membership in the agribusiness and agriculture sectors in Sierra Leone and around the globe.
The activity relates to providing support to key institutions like SLeCAD in the provision of services to their members and engagement in effective policy dialogue with the government on sensitive topics for farmers, producers and exporters including access to inputs, product inspection rules.
In his opening statement, SLeCAD Executive Secretary, Ahmed Nanoh welcomed participants to the training session and encouraged them to use the session as an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in advocacy, to ensure the improvement of the business environment and trade integration for cocoa, cassava, and oil palm that are key commodities for export for S/Leone that will create jobs and wealth, reduce poverty and enhance economic growth in support of the Government New Direction Agenda.
He said the business environment has a lot of challenges and redtapes in the government corridors and that it needs high-level advocacy skills of the agribusiness value chains operators to unlock the Agribusiness and Agro-industrial potentials for the betterment of S/Leone.
“This could only change if the private sector continues to engage the public sector to bring the desired changed,” he stated.
He encouraged participants not to mix politics with business as it will always end to be a defunct business, adding that the agribusiness sector is the largest private sector in the country and if properly managed it would be able to create the needed jobs for the youths, and women in S/Leone where there will be no need for the citizens of S/Leone go for greener pasture overseas.
He said should Sierra Leone Lone manages the agriculture sector well the country will be one of the best economies in the sub-region,but that could only be achieved through advocacy and public private dialogue.
He further emphasised that the training will also provide the introduction to the principles and key functions of trade-related advocacy and policy dialogue, shares practical examples on how trade-related advocacy and policy dialogue can contribute to improve livelihoods and performances of your members and clients, improve on participant skills to discuss key linkages between domestic business environment and international trade agreements, help to address opportunities and challenges for Sierra Leone’s businesses in the agricultural sector.
Siaka Kawa, ITC WACOMP National Coordinator, commended the effort of SLeCAD in advocacy and confirmed that ITC finds it vital to partner with SLeCAD to champion the training of agribusiness private sector companies, SMEs and Cooperative in the cocoa, cassava and oil palm to improve on the business environment especially in the area of export promotion and trade integration that will help the Sierra Leone economy to grow and reduce poverty.
He said ITC was excited to support the training since it will unlock the potential of the agriculture sector and promote internal and regional trade key to the economic growth of every country.
He encourages the participants to be focused and take the training seriously to enhance their business growth through improved business environment.
Fatmata Baby Sankoh, Coordinator for Kalamerrah Women’s Farmers Association,thanked ITC, EU, UNIDO and SLeCAD for offering the Agribusiness Companies, SMEs and Cooperatives the opportunity to be trained in advocacy skills to enhance the improvement of the business environment that promote agribusiness growth.
She said she is coordinating over 1,500 farmers producing Palm, but stated that the value of Sierra Leone palm oil in the world market has drastically fallen due to poor quality and lack of improve processing materials. She said that there has been non check and balances in the supervision and regulation of the palm oil sector and making the country to lose huge foreign currency that currently negatively impacting on the depreciation of the Leones against the US dollar. She concluded by encouraging all agribusiness private sector players to work with the Chamber head by Ahmed Nanoh to improve on advocacy and make their business competitive and profitable.