Skills programme for farmers

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Cargill are investing US $2.5m to strengthen and expand the Cargill Coop Academy in Ivory Coast to provide greater access to advanced business skills training for over 300 cocoa co-operative leaders.

The Cargill Coop Academy, established in 2013, was the first of its kind in the cocoa sector and remains unique in providing co-operative leaders with the management skills to improve the day-to-day running of their organisations and make their organisations more professional, efficient and successful.

The initiative was launched under the Cargill Cocoa Promise, with 40 leaders from 10 co-operatives already benefiting from training and support provided by the Coop Academy. This additional investment will take the programme to the next level, increasing the number of participants to over 300, professionalising the training and materials and including the introduction of a new evaluation and benchmark tool that has been co-developed by IFC and SCOPEinsight, an independent agricultural assessment agency.

Jos de Loor, president of Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate Europe Middle East Africa & Asia says: “The Coop Academy remains a unique programme that is giving the leaders of farmer co-operatives the skills, training and support they need to help their businesses succeed. Successful co-operatives are critical to supporting the future of cocoa farming and cocoa communities. Our partnership with IFC will mean we will reach 70 new co-operatives and their leaders, benefitting more than 60,000 smallholder farmers and their communities.”

The programme continues to include all aspects of management training from good governance, the structure and principles of a co-operative, people management skills, operational management, financial and auditing techniques, and business and marketing plans. Since the programme’s launch, the training has been improved based on feedback and recommendations from the IFC. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada is also contributing to the project as a donor to IFC.

German Vegarra, IFC’s head of manufacturing, agribusiness and services for Sub-Saharan Africa says: “Smallholder famers represent 80 per cent of all farms in Africa. Private sector companies such as Cargill play an important role in supporting farmers and agribusiness on the continent. By supporting the development and professionalism of the farmer co-operatives, the Coop Academy will indirectly equip farmers with the skills they need to grow, access markets and secure their livelihoods.”

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