Ivory Coast: Women farmers plant organic crops to lift themselves out of poverty

“It’s a profitable activity!” Rejoices Agathe Vanié, a farmer by profession: like her, thousands of women in rural Ivory Coast have turned to organic food crops to gain a rare financial autonomy in their lives.

Sitting in its store, Agathe Vanié is proud to present products that occupy the stands of Divo’s first organic stand in the West Central Ivory Coast.

Boxes of eggplant, peanuts, peppers, peppers, turmeric, okra, etc … organically printed, attracting many customers, come from a field of 2,000 Diva village women grouped in Walou, an anti-poverty association.

First Organic Trade in Giant, Ivory Coast, May 20, 2021 (AFP – Issouf SANOGO)
“The chemicals we use to spray the soil, plants, fruits bring us diseases. Since I know this store, I consume good products,” rejoices Marie Michèle Gbadjéli, a farmer interviewed by AFP.

“We need to educate women not to cultivate the land anymore,” adds Agathe Vanié.

President Waloa (“love” in the Dida language, a local nationality) hopes to give farmers financial autonomy while growing healthy products.

“I gathered women to embark on organic farming, first to guarantee their health, to be independent and to be able to send their children to school and get out of poverty,” he explains.

Former cocoa producers convinced members of the association with her speech. “We will be able to make money by launching into a culture other than cocoa, cultivating food crops without adding chemical fertilizers.”

– “Organic has changed our lives” –

Members of an agricultural cooperative work in fields near Diva, Ivory Coast, May 20, 2021 (AFP – Issouf SANOGO)

And in the village of Bôkô, near Diva, in the middle of the green hills, a few women do not regret having sided with the project.

“We no longer pump chemicals into the fields. Switching to organic has changed our lives, we can make a little money to take care of our children and educate them,” rejoices Florence Goubo, a farmer, mother of five, with a hoe in her hand.

“We’re cheated by chemicals,” plague Suzanne N’Dri, amidst her banana, yam and cassava plantation, which has also been converted to organic pig and kid farming.

Madeleine Zébo, president of organic producers in Bôkô, praises the commercial success of crops from these ecological and ethical plantations, with no children working in the fields.

“Peppers, eggplant, djoumgblé (okra, editor’s note), honey, peanuts, tarot, tomatoes … we sell easily at enviable prices,” Ms. Zébo says.

“Women have my support and my blessing. Before, all agricultural production was based on chemicals and phytosanitary products, we were drunk,” says village chief Bôkô Gbaza Zourhouri.

Traceability and product quality: like Wala, this type of initiative is making a breakthrough in the rural Ivory Coast where the poverty rate in the agricultural sector is around 60% according to official statistics.

Orange Bank Africa and UN Women signed a partnership agreement in Abidjan on July 1 “with the aim of jointly addressing the challenges of access to finance and marketing faced by women in rural areas”.

Women in the Ivory Coast “still suffer from strong inequalities today and face many structural problems in their entrepreneurial and agricultural activities,” Orange Bank Africa points out, specifically citing “difficulties in accessing credit”.

The bank has thus promised easy access to 100% digital solutions for loans and savings for this population.

With the strength of the first commercial successes of its products “crossing borders”, the Walo association, for its part, announced a project to build its own health center and processing plant.

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