A new truck leasing program is now in place to help Côte d'Ivoire cocoa farmers transport their cocoa beans.

The program is supported by the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Ivorian bank Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB), and Cargill. These three institutions have come together to help thousands of cocoa farmers from dozens of cooperatives. By leasing trucks and offsetting repair and maintenance costs, the farmers will be able to increase profitability and productivity.

Cocoa production is a key player in Côte d'Ivoire's economy and one of the country's major exports.

“Farmers and their cooperatives have historically lacked access to affordable finance to grow, improve or sustain their businesses," says Lionel Soulard, managing director West Africa, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. "This is a really exciting development, as access to finance — and to better transportation — will make a critical difference to the success of the cooperatives and to Côte d'Ivoire's entire cocoa communities and industry.''

IFC is guaranteeing up to 50 percent of an up-to $6 million leasing portfolio through the risk-sharing facility, SIB. On its part, SIB is providing medium-term financing to cooperatives that supply cocoa to Cargill. This partnership allows the truck leasing, which will enable farmers to easily transport their means to market.

Recently, a group of 43 cooperatives accepted a delivery of 78 new trucks from the program.

It's part of a larger initiative between IFC and Cargill that includes providing business training to managers from more than 300 cocoa cooperatives.

The program receives funding from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.