SIERRA LEONE – The social and ecological development network Solidaridad is working on two projects with an aim of improving cocoa and palm oil production in Sierra Leone.

According to the Concord, the successful implementation of phase two of the Sustainable West African Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP) and the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) projects will help enhance efficiency and productivity at primary production and processing levels.

Running to 2021, the programme also targets palm oil and cocoa industry in Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.

During phase one of the programme, Solidaridad is said to have managed upgrading land governance issues to international standards in eight chiefdoms in the south of the country.

The second phase has an overall objective of increasing sustainable improvement models in rural service centres as well as large scale adoption of the sustainable intensification of cocoa production.

Speaking in an interview, Senior Programmes Officer Andrew Kojo Morrison said the programmes would increase the quality and the ton of cocoa the country produces per annum and also modernise the way palm oil is being processed.

“The strategy under SWAPP II is centred in the large scale adoption of the sustainable intensification of oil palm cultivation and processing in the West African SME sector.

This will be pursued by improving SME access to finance and technical support for two complementary business cases,” he said.

The nongovernmental organisation recently partnered with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to implement initiatives geared at boosting the cocoa industry in Ghana.

Such initiatives by private organisations together with governments aims to enhance diversification, together with cocoa intensification towards boosting the incomes of producers.

The country’s cocoa sector looks to attract the international premium chocolate market after recovering from a more than ten years’ civil conflict.

The 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak led to the suspension of Biolands operations by Barry Callebaut due to quarantine and transport challenges.

US craft chocolate company Dandelion Chocolate is seeking a foothold in the country by buying cocoa from smallholder farmers.