Farmerline: Agric information services for farmers

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Farmerline: Agric information services for farmers: Agronomic services & weather Forecast for farmers in local languages

Kumasi,Tamale,Wa, Bolgatanga,Takoradi,Sunyani and Ho, GhanaKumasi, Ghana
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Farmerline is a content and technology product company that builds supply chain and value chain solutions to integrate agricultural outputs of rural farmers in Africa/emerging markets. As a service focused on smallholder farmers and their stakeholders, we support them to increase yield and income.

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

What if small-scale farmers become prosperous by farming and do not depend solely on aid to increase their yield
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Ghana, the government has only 1 extension agent to train and collect information from every 2000 farmers. A lack of funding for travel to these farms for regular training, the shortage of agents, and poor road and communication infrastructure have created a huge gap in market access for the 90% of all farmers who are smallholders, many of whom are women and live in rural areas. As a result, farmers suffer from low yield and income.

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

Voice Alerts Services: Automated voice alerts are provided to larger groups of small-scale farmers. These are personalized to the profile of each farmer. The content includes prices, new farming techniques, marketing/financial tips and weather. All contents are provided in the respective local languages of farmers. Mobile Surveys: This allows Farmer-Based Organizations and other stakeholders to conduct immediate surveys with thousands of farmers at a fraction of the cost of traditional techniques. This allows them to solicit feedback from various farmers and also to measure the impact of their group interventions. Dedicated Support Line: A dedicated Farmerline team is always available to support farmers with specific questions.
Impact: How does it Work

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

In Ghana 90% of all farmers 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 agriculture 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.

Since we launched in March 2013, over 2000 farmers have experienced enhanced knowledge, increased productivity, elevated income, improved standards of living, and boosted autonomy over their work. Moreover, farmers have always been challenged through Farmerline's information services to market their product in a timely and profitable fashion. Impact assessment conducted in partnership with a PhD candidate from McMaster University,Canada shows that Farmerline have helped farmers increased their yield by 10% and income by 20% per acre. Agribusinesses and development organizations using Farmerline's voice technology for communication and data collection from illiterate communities do so with much lower costs compared to traditional in-person techniques. Over the next 5 years, Farmerline estimates to reach 400,000 farmers with 50% increase in income per acre and 70% field sustainability.

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

The next 10 years, we estimate to reach 2 million farmers with 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 will 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 annually to keep it running.
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

In our final year in the university, Emmanuel Owusu Addai, an MSc graduate in Geomatics, and I felt very lucky and privileged. We wanted to give back. Mobile Web Ghana Entrepreneurship Program was one of the few programs supporting social entrepreneurship in Ghana. We enrolled and developed Farmerline. After working on the project for months and winning the Apps4africa competition, we raised funding from Indigo Trust to launch our first pilot.

Team

Schandorf Adu Bright is the Director of Impact at Farmerline. His sole responsibility is to coordinate projects and serve as a liaison between farmers and technical team. He develops agriculture content to be delivered to farmers. Born and nurtured by humble farming parents, Schandorf understands the challenges small-scale farmers in Ghana face daily and he is passionate about using his knowledge and experience to support them to success.
About You
About You
First Name

Alloysius

Last Name

Attah II

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

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Project
Organization Country

, NO, Kumasi

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Kumasi,Tamale,Wa, Bolgatanga,Takoradi,Sunyani and Ho

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, National government, Customers.

Supplemental
Sector

Health and Hygiene, Improving Nutrition, Water Use, Waste and Packaging, Opportunities for Women, Inclusive Business, Smallholder Farmers.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

Farmerline’s primarily serves farmer based organizations,farmer cooperatives,input dealers,big buyers and development with its subscription based mobile information services via any low cost mobile phones.Farmers in these groups pay for a Farmerline service package of their choice for a season. Farmers pay as much as $7/season for Farmerline's services. Agribusinesses and development organizations pay over $7,000/season for large accounts. We reach our customers through conferences and farmer forums.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

Farmerline's goal is to license its technology and content in to farmers groups and agribusinesses 5 African countries in the next two years. We also want to expand our physical operations to one West African Country,preferably Nigeria,Ivory Coast or Senegal. Winning this prize money and publicity will give us the validation and the networks to easily scale to our target countries over the next two years. We can also raise follow on investment from impact investors in the UK and Sub saharan Africa.
We are working with Kiva and other microfinance institutions to provide loans that will cover inputs such as seed, feed and fertilizer for farmers that cannot buy it upfront. We will also help farmers to sell their products online and offline

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

Upon making it to college, I became determined to give back to the people who supported me. This led me to start two companies, Alloyworld,a photography and video production startup in my second year and iCottage Networks,a successful software development company serving over 200 clients in Ghana. As a result of my work,I spoke about at the Social Capital Markets Conference, 2013 and Mobile World Congress 2014. I am a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?

yes

Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

yes

Are you are a current Unilever employee?