Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has joined forces with the International Finance Corp. (IFC) and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, for a $9-million, risk-sharing program that will help small cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire lay the foundation for a strong financial future.
Over the next four years, Barry Callebaut, IFC and IDH plan to support up to 103,000 smallholder cocoa farmers through inputs and farm services. The objective is to give farmers positive operational and financial track records that will help them secure local and international financing.
“The start of this initiative represents an important step in promoting professional, sustainable cocoa farming and in enabling cocoa growers to develop from being subsistence farmers into small entrepreneurs,” says Antoine de Saint-Affrique, ceo of Barry Callebaut. “Barry Callebaut is proud to lead the efforts to professionalize cocoa farming, and is excited about the support of our partners in this endeavor.”
Farmers and farmer cooperatives will have access to two productivity packages on a credit basis. The basic package includes training in areas such as pruning and crop protection. The advanced package will provide similar training, as well as fertilizers, to professional, credit-worthy farmers with trees younger than 20 years. Both packages include support through on-farm, individualized coaching from Barry Callebaut-accredited agents trained in agronomy, business management and adult education.
To receive a productivity package on credit, farmers will be assisted in opening bank accounts with Advans, a West African microfinance institution. Farmers must save part of the package value up front.
The partnership aligns with Cocoa Action, an industry-wide strategy for cocoa sustainability convened by the World Cocoa Foundation. Launched in 2014, the strategy aligns sustainability efforts of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies and increases their role in building an economically viable cocoa sector. Barry Callebaut is among nine companies committed to Cocoa Action.