Tough Africans

#IWD2024: Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism Investing in Women Cocoa Producers Contributes to Accelerating Progress for Côte d’Ivoire Coop

African Development Bank Group

Sandrine Assi, Head of the Watté United Brothers agricultural cooperative looking forward to improved cocoa harvest following fertilizer application season.

San Pedro is located in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire, and producing cocoa alone here can be an uphill battle. For Sandrine Assi, one of San Pedro’s women cocoa producers, these challenges are all too familiar. The size of her small farm, the high cost of hired labor, expensive fertilizers, middlemen cutting into her profits, and market price volatility all mean that farmers like Assi who venture into the cocoa business independently often bring home less money at the end of the harvest season than they’d like.

To overcome these challenges and earn a larger share of the 40% of cocoa world supply produced in Côte d’Ivoire(link is external), more and more of San Pedro’s farmers are joining cooperatives. Sandrine Assi secured membership the Watté United Brothers agricultural cooperative in Watté, 23 kilometers outside San Pedro, and she now runs it. Watté United Brothers, which counts 32 other women among its 587 members, is one of more than 3,000 coffee and cocoa sector cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire – and one of only a few where women are in leadership positions.  This is a real change in societies where women are traditionally limited to domestic roles.

“Not only are we [women] breaking these barriers but we are also thriving. Watté United Brothers has empowered me and helped me increase my production,” Assi says. Cooperatives like Watté United Brothers help farmers share their agricultural resources, acquire greater negotiating power, maximize benefits, and buy farming tools and inputs like fertilizers in bulk.

In Côte d’Ivoire, a 50kg bag of fertilizer costs nearly $39, well beyond the reach of most farmers in the San Pedro region. The African Development Bank’s Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism is working with farmers and cooperatives to make fertilizers more affordable. The Mechanism teamed up with OCP Africa(link is external), a leading international fertilizer provider, to roll out an innovative, $2 million trade credit guarantee program in Côte d’Ivoire. Under it, the Mechanism shares the transactional credit risk with suppliers like OCP Africa, giving them greater confidence to sell fertilizer to agro-dealers and cooperatives like Watté United Brothers on credit.

A pile of cocoa plants fertilizer bags in Rifi Distribution, a fertilizer retail shop. Rifi Distribution is one of the participating fertilizer distributors in the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism’s trade credit guarantee project in Côte d’Ivoire.

Under Assi’s leadership, the cooperative signed a partnership with Rifi Distribution, a fertilizer supplier involved in the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism-OCP Africa project. Farmers can now pay a more affordable 20% up front for fertilizer and pay the remaining 80% after harvest. This credit scheme boosts farmers’ use of fertilizer, resulting in more cocoa growing in their fields.

“Before the partnership with Rifi Distribution, we had 300 bags [of fertilizer] for our different producers. But in this partnership, we got up to 7,000 bags, approximately 350 tons,” Assi said.

Rifi Distribution and six other fertilizer agro-dealers participate in this trade credit guarantee project.

Cocoa dries in front of a farmer’s house in Watte village, San Pedro, Côte d’Ivoire.

“The Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism invests in smallholder farmers at the last mile, including women” — who make up 30% of the small-scale farmers targeted by the AFFM –by making fertilizers more accessible and easier to use through trade credit guarantees. This approach helps thousands of farmers, leading to higher crop yields and ultimately boosting their income,” said Marie Claire Kalihangabo, Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism Coordinator.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the project delivered 4,217 tons of fertilizer to more than 9,800 cocoa growers last year.

To learn more about the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism, please click here.

To explore our photo gallery about Côte d’Ivoire’s Trade Credit Guarantee Program click here(link is external).

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