Fish farming in Ghana is probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give it a moment’s thought either, although today was different as we have just awarded Farmerline a grant of £5,200 to enable them to pilot their SMS and voice-based system with a group of Ghanaian fish farmers.
Farmerline provides access to agriculture information, communications expertise and advisory services for smallholder farmers and other agricultural stakeholders. Their goal is to empower smallholder farmers using information and communications technologies (ICT), by increasing their crop yields and opening up trade networks and opportunities.
Through their activities, Farmerline aim to grow smallholder farm management and production capacity, contribute to improving processes, encourage new skills acquisition, and build local and regional knowledge bases and relationships. Farmerline believe that providing best practice information and access to market are crucial to the success of building the capacities of farmers in Ghana and elsewhere. To test this, they will be deploying a six-month pilot programme aimed at reaching 500 fish farmers (or one twelfth of Ghana’s fish farming population). Farmers will be provided with aquaculture best practice information, advice on record keeping, access to input suppliers and market access information in an attempt to bolster their productivity and incomes. The information will be made available via SMS and farmers will also be able to call a local call centre where operatives who speak Twi, Ga, Fanti, Nzema and Ewe will be on hand to offer advice and support. Farmerline will hold workshops with new users to guide them through the platform and agricultural outreach workers will also be trained in using the platform and demonstrating it to new farmers.
The Farmerline team had this to say about their project:
Farmerline aligns closely with the first MDG, “Eradicate Poverty and Hunger”. We at Farmerline hope to contribute to producing more food to feed the future by using mobile technology to provide smallholder farmers with timely and relevant agriculture information that will increase their yields, income and autonomy. The team is very much excited about this Grant Award.
Farmerline is a welcome addition to the small but growing number of agricultural organisations that we support and it will be fascinating to see how the pilot unfolds over the next few months. All the team at Indigo would like to wish them the very best of luck.