For many of Ghana’s farmers, it is a struggle to stay healthy and well-fed. One of the major problems is that farmers are lacking relevant agricultural information. It can be difficult to get seed prices or learn how to treat diseased crops. Most farmers further do not have a good grasp of the value chain so do not and cannot follow global agricultural trends or have a say in shaping the supply systems they are a part of. Meanwhile, the world’s population is rising and food production levels are getting more and more attention. Smallholder farmers currently feed one-third of the world’s population and have a big role to play in this discussion.
These are the problems Farmerline intends to address, and why it was so exciting to be able to join their team in Kumasi, Ghana last week. Farmerline has partnered with the Canadian NGO Engineers Without Borders (EWB) in order to do research into the livelihoods and technology usage of farmers and extension agents. I am here as an EWB volunteer to spend the next three months carrying out some of this research, beginning this week in the Northern Region in the district of Pong Tamale. The results will be used to refine Farmerline’s design to best suit its users and address the problems discussed above. Some of the big questions we will be asking are: What is the value-add of the services Farmerline can provide to farmers and to extension agents? How do we redesign the Farmerline system and user interfaces to be as useful and usable as possible for farmers and extension agents? What type of farmers should Farmerline start testing the service with?
We will keep you posted on our progress!
– Alexandra Sproule