Empowering farmers through mobile communication in west Africa

A farmer listening to a Farmerline message.
Photograph: Farmerline

15 October, 2014, Accra – Leading Ghana-based technology provider Farmerline has announced plans to join the Business Call to Action. The company plans to empower 500,000 small-scale farmers by 2019 in west Africa to advance their livelihoods by accessing information that helps them to improve their harvests. The company also plans to provide a specialised mobile communication and data-collection platform to 5,000 development organisations and agri-businesses in the next five years.

Headquartered in Ghana, Farmerline is a technology and content company that builds supply chain and value chain solutions targeting smallholder farmers and their stakeholders. By utilising mobile phones, the Farmerline technology provides a valuable link for farmers to better access markets, financing, weather forecasts and agricultural services. Farmerline’s mobile messaging platform allows governments, development partners and businesses to provide farmers with crop management updates faster and at low cost through outgoing messages (voice/SMS) and mobile surveys to ensure that they receive the right information for increasing yields.

The company is working to bridge the information gap that many farmers face in accessing expert agricultural information and real-time data support. Farmerline provides outbound messaging and seasonal subscription services that offer smallholder farmers individualised messaging via their mobile phones as well as a dedicated support line to answer specific questions.

“Our commitment to the Business Call to Action underscores our interest in promoting greater information for the agricultural sector and providing more reliable services and technology to meet the needs of rural farmers, most of whom are women,” stated Alloysius Attah, CEO of Farmerline.

To assist small farmers in improving their yields and enhancing productivity, Farmerline’s voice messaging and mobile technology inform farmers of best practices in areas like product storage, reducing pest infestations and bringing products to market. The company aspires to expand its services across Africa – and with 75% of farmers now owning mobile phones, the company aims to reach an estimated 2 million farmers by 2024.

According to Sahba Sobhani, acting programme manager of the Business Call to Action, “Greater access to agricultural information using the mobile phone is a vital instrument for farmers in key underserved markets in Africa, and opening up crucial access to real-time information helps farmers increase their productivity.”

The company has recently announced plans to target low-income illiterate communities – especially small-scale farmers – with information about the dangers associated with contracting the Ebola virus. In addition, Farmerline is in the midst of creating new ICT tools that can support health workers in Africa.

The Business Call to Action (BCtA) is a global corporate leadership platform, with over 100 member companies that are incorporating inclusive business approaches in their operations to help advance the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). As innovators in this space, BCtA member companies are advancing the inclusive business agenda by creating novel business models, sharing lessons learned, and forging partnerships to improve scale and increase development impact. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development (DFID), US Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Global Compact to meet the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Companies report on progress toward commitments on an annual basis.

About Farmerline

Farmerline is a mobile-messaging platform that allows businesses and development partners to instantly communicate and gather data from rural communities, especially small-scale farmers, in their local language through outgoing voice messages, SMS and mobile surveys. Today, the Ghanaian company is leading an ICT approach to Ebola education with its chain of mobile communication and data-collection technologies.

Co-Founders Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai have recently been named 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellows for their innovation and vision. To read more about Farmerline and its efforts toempower small-scale farmers, click here.

For more information contact:

BCTA: Karen Newman, karen.newman@undp.org, +212 906-5194

Farmerline: Alloysius Attah, alloysius@farmerline.org, +233 249 230 704

Or tweet @bctainitiative

More from the Business Call to Action partner zone:

Content on this page is paid for and provided by Business Call to Action, supporter of the role of business in development hub

Launched at the United Nations, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) is a global alliance hosted by the United Nations Development Programme headquarters in New York. Follow: @BCtAInitiative