Cocoa sector regulators from the Liberia Agriculture Commodity Regulatory Authority (LACRA) have begun a week - long intensive training being facilitated in Monrovia by Ghanaian cocoa experts through the support of global network organization Solidaridad with funding from the European Union (EU).
The program has brought in Mr. KwasiGorkeh-Sekyim, a retired managing director of Quality Control Company of Ghana COCOBOD and Mr. Emmanuel Oduro to provide technical support to LACRA to develop the policy and regulatory framework of the cocoa sector of Liberia.
LACRA technical staff is being provided hands-on training to enable them to check strictly the quality indices and also appreciate how any gloss over and carelessness can impact negatively on cocoa quality and food safety.
The training of the LACRA technicians comes about four months after Solidaridad launched a four - year cocoa and oil palm agriculture programs in Liberia, aimed at equipping thousands of smallholder farmers with trainings and access to finance to explore the two lucrative sectors.
Speaking at the commencement of the training Monday, 9 September at Boulevard Palace, the Director of Standard Lab at the Ministry of Commerce Mr. Stephen Y. Mambu challenged LACRA technicians to see the training of trainers exercise as very important, stressing the importance of the technical capacity of institutions here.
Mr. Mambu applauds Solidaridad for inviting the Ghanaian counterparts to provide the training, saying he has been working with them and they are "the experts that we need" to beef technical capacity.LACRA Director General Mr. John Flomo assures that his team will take advantage of everything that will be taught by the experts.
According to Mr. Flomo, the LACRA team that is participating in the training is the team that assesses the quality and quantity and qualifies any cocoa and other agriculture commodity before it leaves Liberia.Solidaridad Cocoa Program Manager Mr. BoimaBafaie says the training will cover among other things, national and EU regulations on cocoa, quality and quality control, assessing cocoa for quality and good warehousing and transportation practices.
Mr. Bafaie challenges his colleagues that are benefiting from the training to take it seriously and put in all the time they can.
"The training is meant to provide knowledge and understanding of cocoa quality issues of National and International regulations and quality standards from the farm gate to destination market in order to meet local and international standards and regulatory requirements," he says.
For his part, Mr. Randolph Kolleh, in proxy of Agriculture Ministry authorities, explains that agriculture has been identified as one of the key areas that Liberia can benefit a lot from in terms of resuscitating the economy.He says the Ministry of Agriculture sees cocoa as a key value chain in the agriculture sector, expressing thanks to Solidaridad for the project.He emphasizes the Ministry's continuous support to the sector, noting that the training being initiated by Solidaridad and the EU is very critical.By Winston W. Parley