Ivory Coast Cocoa Growers Pool Funds to Set Up Agricultural Bank

Cocoa growers in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest producer of the crop, plan to establish a bank for small farmers and farmers’ cooperatives.

Members of 400 farmers cooperatives are paying a monthly contribution of 2,500 CFA francs ($5.24) to help set up next year a microcredit facility, the Epargne Nationale des Agriculteurs, Fulgence N’Guessan, head of the National Alliance of Coffee & Cocoa Producers, said in an interview yesterday in the commercial capital, Abidjan.

The bank will open once farmers make 9 billion CFA francs in contributions, N’Guessan said. The credit facility is needed “to organize ourselves because small farmers remain poor” despite recent changes to the industry’s structure.

Ivory Coast in 2011 introduced an electronic auction selling most of the cocoa crop before the harvest is gathered, guaranteeing farmers receive at least 60 percent of the international price for their beans. The changes were required by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as a condition for Ivory Coast to qualify for debt relief.

The West African Development Bank, known as BOAD, has funded a feasibility study, said N’Guessan.

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