FRP team members with the Biopartenataire team during the project visit in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire
The Fund team members, Milton Lore, Team Leader, Wilson Irungu, Program Associate and Barbara Wiafe, project manager took part in a project visit on 6 September 2019 to assess Biopartenataire’s project in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’ Ivoire. Biopartenaire received support from the Fund to pre-finance productivity-boosting farm services and inputs to smallholder cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire. The company also train farmers on Good Agricultural practices, entrepreneurship, and Adult financial education.
During the visit, the Fund team met the team members from Biopartenaire and a farmer cooperative with approximately 682 members. They also had an opportunity to visit a number of farms and interacted with beneficiaries of the project. Two farmers shared specific details on how they had now developed business plans and leveraged the farming practices learned to increase their yields over the years. Some farmers stated that they have gone from producing 3 harvests to 6 harvests per year on their farms.
Prior to the project implemented by Biopartenaire, a small number of farmers actually kept records of their historical yields. However, with the training program, they have now learnt how to keep records, significantly improved on their good farming practices, and increased their yields thereby making them capable of leveraging the input credit offered. Approximately 3,300 Farmers with the assistance of the training coaches have established development plans defining, a productivity kit, saving plan and credit expectations. The farmers have recognized the value of the training and have stayed committed to the program.
Key observations made during the interaction with the farmers was that low level of literacy among older farmers when it comes to digital technology poses a major challenge. In addition to that, majority of cocoa farmers are men, not women, who find it hard to handle heavy farm equipment and complete tasks linked to cocoa farming. Instead most of the women farmers engage in other crops such as pepper, maize, tomatoes, onions and vegetables. They however assist during harvesting of the cocoa beans by helping with transporting of the harvest.
Uptake of the mobile savings account is still low in Yamoussoukro as well, mainly due to the low yield of cocoa beans over the period. Biorpartnaire is building on from such learnings and finding innovative solutions to solve the challenges experienced.
Generally, the business model, centred on enabling productivity lending to unorganized farmers is achieving success and the Fund team hopes that Biorpartnaire will continue to provide credit and training that will ultimately increase income of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire.