International Finance Corporation (IFC) has brought more than fifty key local and international experts together in Freetown to discuss how Sierra Leone can capitalise on the booming organic cocoa market and improve sustainability, productivity, quality and certification.
The meeting was attended by policymakers, private sector leaders, international experts and development and civil society organisations. It drew on their knowledge and experience in the organic cocoa sector and aims to develop a strategic roadmap to identify where IFC’s investment and advisory services can complement existing efforts.
This event builds on IFC’s diagnostic study of Sierra Leone’s organic cocoa sector which underscores the sector’s considerable growth potential. The sector recently attracted investment from firms such as Organic Africa, Lizard Earth and Akuna Cocoa.
In 2019, cocoa was the third largest organic cocoa exporter in the world, with 11,500 metric tons of its cocoa exports certified organic.
Discussions focused on ways to improve yields and productivity, how to better support cooperatives’ development and pathways to add value to the sector through quality and certification.
As the country’s primary cash crop making up 9% of exports and generating employment for around 66,000 households, cocoa is critical to the government’s plans to increase foreign exchange generation and diversify the economy away from mining.
However, the sector’s continued growth faces several challenges, including concerns over child labor and deforestation, weak farmer organisation, limited investment in productivity, and little value addition. Addressing these challenges is key to the sector’s expansion.