For most of the 25-million people living in Ivory Coast, agriculture — smallholder farming in particular — is the primary source of income. But farm life in the West African country is rarely easy. Smallholder farmers struggle to obtain access to formal financing for their operations; they exist largely in a cash-based rural economy and have little by way of savings to mitigate risk.

It can be a difficult life, with low productivity and low returns. According to the World Food Programme, 46% of the Ivorian population lives below the poverty line. And a long-running drought, which has left areas of the country dry since the 1990s, has not helped matters. Which is why Ivory Coast has been hungry for innovative solutions that will make the lives of its smallholder farmers easier and more rewarding...

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