The chocolate and cocoa ingredients supplier says it is a big step towards professionalizing the farming sector.
‘Logistics are every challenging’
Lionel Soulard, managing director West Africa, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, told ConfectioneryNews: “Our research into costs incurred by cooperatives has shown that continuous maintenance is a major expense and very time consuming as they are operating old trucks. Logistics are very challenging in Côte d’Ivoire, so this is a key issue that they face and we are keen to address.”
The initiative from Cargill and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) supports cooperatives that are part of the Cargill Coop Academy with whom Cargill already has a long-term relationship. Last month 43 cooperatives leased 78 new trucks.
“In the coming months almost 80 partner cooperatives will graduate from the Cargill Coop Academy and will have access to the leasing next year,” said Soulard.
Supporting coops not replacing them
Cargill says it aims to help farmers overcome the cost of transporting cocoa, poor infrastructure and maintaining old trucks.
Cooperatives receive three-year term loans at low interest rates from Ivorian bank SIB to pay for the trucks.
Asked why Cargill couldn’t pay for the trucks itself, Soulard said: “We see our role as supporting and working in partnership with cooperatives, not replacing them as, with their understanding and knowledge or what is required, they can do a better job for farmers than we can.”
He added that Cargill believed in supporting farmer organization’s and said the firm had no ambitions to buy cocoa at the farm gate directly from individual farmers.