The World Cocoa Foundation has awarded a last mile contract to the African Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) to boost fertilizer access by smallholder farmers in Ghana and Cameroon, two of the top cocoa producing countries in the world.

Cocoa farmers in in the two countries suffer low yield as a result of inadequate access to appropriate agro inputs. Through its African Cocoa Initiative (ACI) and Cocoa Livelihoods Program(CLP), World Cocoa Foundation has been exploring ways to increase the capacity of hub-agro dealers and last mile retailers to improve access for increased cocoa production in West Africa.

The 18 month project, “Improving Fertilizer Delivery to Coca Famers: From Supply to Last Mile,” is set to ease current bottlenecks in the sourcing, distribution and access to fertilizers in the two countries.

With fertilizer as one of the key factors for yield increase in the cocoa sector, WCF has approached AFAP as a strategic partner to handle all fertilizer related intervention in Africa on its behalf. The project seeks to understand the dynamics of the fertilizer value chain from the supply side, assess the last mile fertilizer delivery, identify and train Hub-Agro dealers as well as identify and train of reliable retailers. Under the project, AFAP will assess agro-input dealer landscape in the two countries and identify challenges inherent in the last mile delivery of fertilizers to smallholder cocoa farmers and recommend solutions to overcoming those challenges.

"We are very excited about this new partnership with AFAP as we believe it is a sure way to utilize their expertise in building capacity of agro dealers in the two countries. If farmers can improve their yields in a manner that would translate into incomes for them to be better off, access to the required agro inputs cannot be overemphasized. That is why access to inputs has been prioritized by WCF's sector-wide strategy CocoaAction being implemented by some of our key members" Suzanne Ndongo-Seh, WCF's CLP Programme Director and Cote d'Ivoire Country Director.

Poor soils and high fertilizer landing costs hinder cocoa production in Ghana and Cameroon which annually produce over 830 000 tonnes and over 270 000 tonnes of cocoa respectively. Weak fertilizer distribution value chains in addition to the combination of lack of inputs, poor weather, pests and diseases hamper cocoa industry, hurting smallholder farmers’ incomes.

It is expected that AFAP will build the capacity of 33 hub dealers in Ghana and Cameroon to train 350 hub-agro dealers and retailers and mentor 120 retailers/last mile delivery stakeholders. Based on the number of hub-agro dealers who would have been trained, it is expected that over 15,000 metric tons of fertilizers will be sold by fertilizer importers who will eventually participate in the project.

“The outcome of trained agro dealers will not only impact cocoa farmers, but also trigger a potential increase in income and job creation in the distribution of appropriate fertilizer and agrochemicals” said Pierre Brunache, Jr., Chief Agribusiness Officer at AFAP.

At the end of the project, AFAP would have mapped over 4,000 sales points across the two countries and enable smallholder farmers access to information on wholesale and retail shops by publishing an agro-input dealer directory. The directory will be distributed to about 7,000 smallholder cocoa farmers in these countries.

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