Côte d’Ivoire is well-known in the world as the largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and cashew nuts, and a top exporter of coffee and palm oil. Nevertheless, Ivorian smallholder farmers who contribute the most to the agricultural sector are largely neglected by formal financial institutions.
Indeed, only 29 percent of Ivorian smallholder farmers have an account registered to their name at a formal financial institution. This is mainly driven by mobile money: 27 percent have a mobile money account, while only 5 percent have a bank account and 4 percent have an account at a microfinance institution.
CGAP’s recent nationally representative survey of 3,000 smallholder households and 5,000 household members shows that Ivorian smallholder farmers work in an informal ecosystem:
- 87% sell their crops and livestock outside of any contract.
- 98% are paid in cash.
- 16% have the possibility to pay the suppliers on a differed basis.
- 26% belong to an agricultural organization.
In that context, mobile money represents a unique opportunity for increasing financial inclusion and opens the possibility to digitize payments in the various agricultural value chains in the country. Eighty-six percent of smallholder farmers in Côte d’Ivoire have their own mobile phone. Seventy-three percent have heard about mobile money, and 94 percent think that there are advantages to having a mobile money account. However, the use of mobile money remains low—only 36 percent have used it for a financial activity.
The good news is that most smallholders would have the necessary identification to open a financial account at a formal financial institution, mitigating a common barrier to having a financial account. Ninety-three percent have birth certificates, and 82 percent have official government-issued identification.
Beyond payments, Ivoirian smallholder farmers express a diversity of financial needs. For example, 82 percent think that it is important to save for an unexpected event, and 65 percent would be willing to borrow to start a new business or extend their agricultural activity.
The survey also showed that Côte d’Ivoire’s smallholder farming population is older (older than 40) and that current dynamics may pose challenges for the future of the agricultural sector. The relatively small number of young farmers (11 percent), coupled with the fact that most Ivoirian smallholder farmers do not have a primary school education, could adversely impact the success of the next generation of farmers.
The findings of this CGAP survey should help to guide policy decisions and the development of financial services tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers by formal financial services providers.