Established in 2009, Biopartenaire is a wholly owned subsidiary of Barry Callebaut, one of the largest processors of cocoa and chocolate products globally.
Biopartenaire works with cocoa farmers in villages in Côte D’Ivoire to produce quality fermented and dried cocoa. It also trains farmers in good agricultural practices and post-harvest management techniques.
Biopartenaire is providing inputs to farmers on credit (unsecured) on condition that the farmer will have made saving deposits with a partner MFI. This is enabling the creation of credit histories for smallholder farmers and improving their financial literacy.
Biopartenaire has trained a number of sustainability field agents. Over 3,000 farmers have established a farm development plan together with their coaches, defining a productivity kit, savings target and credit expectation, and nearly 1,000 farmers have registered for a savings product.
A Biopartenaire farmer field book evaluation shows that the observed increase in productivity after application of the productivity package for 1 year is about +20% cocoa production, confirming the company’s initial hypothesis. A low farm gate price has, however, proven to be detrimental to farmer income.
This sort of support has only ever been provided in small pilot projects in the past, and indications are that working with unbanked cocoa farmers to develop a market for MFIs has significant potential to create credit histories for smallholder farmers and improve their financial literacy.