FAIRTRADE Africa and FAIRTRADE International teams visited the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) to discuss the challenges of Cocoa Producers and possible collaboration.

FAIRTRADE, is an independent nonprofit organization representing all Fairtrade-certified producers across the African continent. Founded in 2005, the organization has grown to advocate for an impressive number of over 1.3 million producers spanning 29 African countries.

The Ag. Director of Export Development at SLIEPA, Mr. Bobson Margai explained the agency’s core mandate and revealed SLIEP’s process of transitioning into a National Investment Board (NIB). This transformation aims to establish a consolidated, one-stop hub for all investment and export-related matters.

He emphasized SLIEPA’s obligation to empower farmers through diverse training programs. He said that these initiatives cover an extensive range of topics such as facilitating access to finance, promoting products, and optimizing packaging, among other vital areas.

The FAIRTRADE delegation in response expressed their gratitude. They communicated their happiness with the insights gained during their visit. The delegation conveyed their obligation to address the challenges faced by cooperatives and farmers, reaffirming that Fairtrade certifications are granted to cooperatives rather than individuals.

They went on to highlight the current work being done and the potential of the Cocoa sector in Sierra Leone emphasizing their commitment to continue to support producers in the country. The delegation used the opportunity to draw the attention of the SLIEPA team on the European Union Regulation on Deforestation as well as the Organic Regulation and the need for the country to prepare to avoid losing its market opportunities to EU Market.

In the FAIRTRADE Team were Mr Jon Walker- Senior Cocoa Advisor, FAIRTRADE International, Mr Chris Oluoch; Program Director, Mr Edward Akapire; Head of West African Network, Mr Abubakar Afful; Cocoa Program Manager-West Africa, Mr Etienne Ane Tehoua; Regional Operations Manager, Mr Baaman Chatin; Program Team Leader Ghana and Sierra Leone and Mr Mohamed SANNOH; Sierra Leone Country Representative.

The collaborative seeks to endeavor a good relationship between Fairtrade Africa and SLIEPA toward promoting fair and sustainable agricultural practices in Sierra Leone and across the African continent.