Farmerline Ltd

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Farmerline Ltd: Improving the Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers through ICT

Kumasi, Sunyani, Tamale, Tarkoradi, GhanaKumasi, Ghana
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Established
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

According to Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, small farmers account for about 80% of domestic food production, with an average farm size of about 1.2 hectares and low use of improved technology.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Mobile phones are the best tools to help farmers access expert agricultural information to increase their production
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, small farmers account for about 80% of domestic food production, with an average farm size of about 1.2 hectares and low use of improved technology. The country’s agriculture is characterized by low crop and animal productivity, and gaps between achievable yields (under best farmer practices) and actual yields can be over 50%. Smallholder farmers in particular suffer from low yields.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Farmerline bridges the information gap by providing a seasonal subscription service that offers small farmers access via their mobile phones to critical agricultural information, all in their local language (and by voice for those customers that have low-literacy) for easy understanding. Mobile phones have proven to be the one of the most important tools for business development in emerging markets, and there has been unprecedented, rapid growth in mobile phone adoption in Africa within the last five years. While it’s increasingly becoming the best channel for communication among the people at the bottom of the pyramid, there is a wide illiteracy gap, making it difficult and expensive to communicate via SMS.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

90% of all farmers in Ghana are smallholders, many of whom are women who live in rural areas. Nasara is a Woman Soy Bean Farmer. She faces so many obstacles as a result of her location and farming venture. She suffers from low yield and high post-harvest loss because she is not able to receive timely and locally relevant agricultural information.With the high mobile phone penetration in Ghana, She receives timely and updated information, 5 times a week on her "dumb" mobile phone to keep her informed throughout the farming season. She is also able to call a helpline to ask follow up questions after receiving the tips. She increase her yield quality and income from listening to the tips in her local language.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In March 2013, over 2000 farmers have received improved information which enhanced their knowledge leading to increased productivity, income and improved their standards of living. Moreover, farmers have always been supported through Farmerline's information services and ready market leading to maximized profit. Farmerline in partnership with a PhD candidate from McMaster University,Canada conducted Impact assessment which indicated that farmers using our services increased their yields by 10% and their income by 20% per acre. Agribusinesses and development organizations using Farmerline's voice technology for communication and data collection from illiterate communities spend cheaper costs as compared to traditional in-person techniques. Over the next 5 years, Farmerline is estimated to reach 400,000 farmers aiming to achieve 50% increase in income per acre.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Farmerline projects to reach 2 million farmers over the next 10 years and also aim to achieve 80% increase in income per acre and 90% field sustainability across West Africa. Farmerline is creating a partnership program that allows individuals and businesses to set up and run Farmerline's technology and content within their country without any technical knowledge. Farmerline support its potential partners with the technology, certification and maintenance. They will only have to market the service to agribusinesses and governments. The partner will only have to pay for a licensing fee.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Farmerline's main sources of finance will be through revenues generated from selling its services to farmers,grant from Indigo Trust and equity investment from Impact investors like Invested Development and Aqua Spark. Last year, Farmerline generated $52,000 in revenue. This year, we are estimating reaching 10,000 farmers with revenue of over $200,000 by march 2015. $80,000 revenue is already generated in the second quarter of 2014.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are two active (Esoko and mfarms) mobile SMS applications that try to provide content for these farmers and measure impact via surveys. However, these options do not account for the high illiteracy rate among the smallholder farmer population in countries like Ghana. SMS price alerts, weather updates, input supply, and distribution network connections are not effective if the recipients cannot read them. The second differentiator is that, these platforms were created and mostly attached to NGOs implementing projects, rather than focusing their impact directly on farmers.
Team

Founding Story

From humble beginning, I understand the challenges small- scale farmers in Ghana face daily and the potential agriculture holds in Ghana. My education was greatly funded by the profits my parents made from their farm business. After university, I became so passionate about using my knowledge and experience to support farmers like my parents to succeed so they can fund their children education. I therefore joined Farmerline as the company’s first employee. On behalf of Farmerline, I have trained more than 3,000 small-scale farmers to adopt and benefit from Farmerline’s voice messaging technology.

Team

Alloysius Attah is the CEO of Farmerline and responsible for leading the team to achieve its vision. Alloysius spoke about his work at the Social Capital Markets Conference, 2013 and Mobile World Congress 2014. He is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow. Worlali Senyo is the Farmerline director of Business Development and is currently based in Accra, Ghana. He manages Farmerline’s client and partner relationships by organizing presentationd