NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — Investing in the future of farming has become easier than ever with the introduction of digital tools and online networks. In fact, as technological expansion continues in Africa, countries are beginning to farm in a whole new way. In the Sub-Sarahan nation of Ghana, agriculture is the most crucial sector of the economy. The farming sector alone employs more than half of the current population of 30 million. Moreover, it accounts for 50% of all export profits and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Finding methods to make the farming industry in Ghana more efficient and productive are crucial steps forward. Fortunately, two innovators founded a company to bring the farming industry into the technological world and aid farmers — Farmerline.
The Future of Farming
Farmerline, in partnership with MergData, is a social software company based in Ghana. The company uses various digital communication methods to connect farmers to essential business services and partnerships. Services from Farmerline include:
- Mobile messaging
- Weather reports from 80 varying stations throughout the country
- Pest and disease projections
- Market information
- Financial services
Farmerline goes far beyond the day-to-day messaging service, as well. The company provides all farmers in the network with a digital identity card, which helps farmers keep records of all their business transactions. This system is particularly important since, for many, it is the first step to building credit. Along with a stable and secure communication system, Farmerline offers a reliable delivery method that ensures farmers receive timely inputs to improve productivity. The distribution network is comprised of warehouses and heavy-duty vehicles that efficiently transport goods and services from cities to rural villages. Additionally, the information supplied by MergData contains educational guidelines for child labor laws, environmental protection, climate change, certifications, inspections and overall farming industry standards.
Fortunately, Ghana has one of the largest mobile phone markets, with more than 34 million customers. This allows Farmerline to be a very accessible option. Further, each service translates into nine local West African languages, which makes the information dissemination easier. All users have to do to access the software’s wealth of information is dial a code.
Beyond the digital side of Farmerline, there is the human aspect. In conjunction with technology, Farmerline utilizes field agents to educate and provide thorough training to more than 12,000 farmers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made service delivery more difficult. Even so, the need for agents remains. To continue its work, the company has adapted to socially distant methods of training. Field officers have primarily been coaching and educating via phone calls and the Farmerline call center.
Farmerline currently operates in Cameroon, Malawi, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Within these countries, the company has already reached more than 200,000 farmers. However, the company does not plan on stopping here. Farmerline is looking to expand its efforts across Africa. With the help of companies like Farmerline, Africa’s agricultural sector is on track for technological revolution. There will be improved production efficiency, better workers’ rights and increased wages. A revitalized farming industry will provide a way forward for Ghana and all of Africa.
– Sallie Blackmon