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A Great Start to the Year. Farmer Charlie in Côte d’Ivoire

Betty Bonnardel, CEO of Farmer Charlie, with women farmers in Côte d’Ivoire

On the 1st of March 2023, Farmer Charlie began the Cool Mangoes project in the Tchologo region, located in the northern area of Côte d’Ivoire.

Aimed at bringing solar-powered cooling containers to small farming cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire, Cool Mangoes has been conducted in collaboration with the local company Direct Impact Partners (brand name: Cool Lion Energies), which specialises in providing refrigerating solutions.

Cool Lion Energies provided container units equipped with Farmer Charlie’s sensors to monitor cooling temperature and humidity for ideal storage conditions. Both partners have relied on the support and collaboration of the Wopinin-Wognon cooperative, based in Ferkessédogou. Farmer Charlie also brought the internet to the cooperative farmers thanks to a VSAT satellite communication link. The aim here was to optimise mango production and the use of the refrigerated container for the cooperative.

In January 2024, Betty Bonnardel, CEO of Farmer Charlie, visited Côte d'Ivoire and met partners, personalities and farmers involved in the project. The objective of the visit was first to see the installation work at the factory and in the village and then to promote the project to stakeholders who could help make the project viable. The visit was also an opportunity to personally observe the daily activities of farmers and the difficulties they face.

Farmer Charlie was especially impressed by the hard-working conditions of the women who, as emerged from the surveys conducted during the project, are not usually landowners but rent or share parcels where they work six days a week from dawn to dusk, further to which they sell their products at the market. For female farmers, significant challenges are:

The lack of irrigation and mechanisation;

The massive precipitation events occurring twice a year (which cause the abandonment of the parcel or its conversion to rice cultivation when flooding damages other crops);

The scorching climate and consequent degradation/waste of yield affecting the income and nutrition of farmers;

The scarcity of funds to purchase inputs.

Several recommendations for future activities emerged during the visit:

Establishing a modern market for the preservation of agricultural products in a cold room within the villages.

The installation of weather stations in several areas to locate producers who are confronted with the problems of climatic variations.

The extension of the internet in the area visited. That would allow easy access to all online training modules on agricultural activities.

The construction of boreholes or a water conservation system to facilitate the irrigation of plots throughout the year.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience, enhanced by the warm and kind hospitality of all the people Betty encountered. Our team are now assessing the lessons learned during the project and the visit and thinking about the best strategies to support local farmers in future.

We will keep bringing information to the field!

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