What matters most to farmers in this time of COVID?

As we have outlined in previous posts, this pandemic affecting food systems both locally and globally, and farmers are essential to these systems. We have been keeping in touch with farmers now as ever through this pandemic, especially on how we can better support them.

In conversations with farmers about what matters most to them during COVID-19, we noticed that the same issues kept arising; the need for access to finances, labour, inputs, information and access to the market.

We have canvassed some of these opinions from farmers which we share below.

Kadija Benewaa

Kadija is a Community Agent and Farmer at Adansi Domeabra.

How has COVID-19 affected you?

The pandemic has affected our work greatly. We were afraid to step out and go about our farming activities. Prices for items we buy every day were suddenly increased sometimes they were unavailable. 

Tell me how it has affected your farming activities?

Initially, we decided to stay away from farming for awhile just to monitor how things progress.

Usually, before the planting season starts, labourers from other parts come and help us prepare our lands for the planting season. This time, we don’t have enough labourers to support our work on the farm because of the lockdown. If you have multiple acres of land to farm, it becomes very difficult to get ready for the season. There is a lot of uncertainty this season. We can’t keep away from our farms, so we are taking strict measures to protect ourselves from the disease. I don’t talk to people who are not wearing a mask.

What is most important to you during these times?

Provision of inputs on credit and some financial support to continue managing my farm this season.

Usually, we go for seeds (maize, rice) from the agric office and pay back the cost of the seeds at the end of the season. This year, we didn’t get access to this service. We need money and inputs.

George Boateng

George is a Community Agent and cocoa Farmer at Yonso in the Ashanti region. He also grows plantain, cassava, cocoyam. In normal times, he says he would prepare for the planting season by registering with the government to get the desired number of cocoa seedlings, securing land, sourcing money for labour and inputs, clearing and preparing his land and then by June, planting the seedlings.

How has your work changed with COVID-19?

We rely heavily on farmhands, especially during the start of the season because we need to clear and prepare our lands. These farmhands mostly travel in from Burkina Faso and Togo. Due to COVID-19 most of these farmhands were unable to return for this season’s work. Borders have been closed, and this has affected our work on the farm greatly.

Usually, before the cocoa season ends, we rely on the sale of other crops to get money to take care of our families and to pay for inputs and labour for our cocoa farms. But this year we have not been able to make good sales on our crops. Because of the limited movements, our products aren’t getting to major markets where they would be sold for higher profits.

What resources, people and strategies are needed for a successful planting season during COVID-19?

Access to farm inputs, agrochemicals and credit facilities to help us access finance and grow the cocoa.

Margaret Addai

Margaret is a farmer and community agent in Bipoa, in Ghana. She grows tomatoes, bananas, garden eggs, pepper and cocoa.

Her role as a community agent is to help to distribute the services to farmers in her community. 

How has your work changed with COVID-19?

The lockdown and limited movement inhibited us from actively engaging in some economic activities that will provide the finance we need to invest in our farms. Trading activities have been limited, and I was not able to get enough money to buy some inputs for this planting season. 

What resources, people and strategies are needed for a successful planting season during COVID-19?

Financing is very important. Money helps farmers to buy the right inputs like weedicides and pesticides. Education is very important. Over the years, I have learnt a number of planting techniques that have helped me farm better.

At Farmerline, we directly serve over 40,000 farmers across Ghana with weather updates and agronomic information; quality and affordable inputs as well as direct farmer training. We are staying in touch with our farmers throughout this pandemic and continue to find innovative ways to serve them using technology and an efficient distribution model.

Read more on how COVID-19 response measures here.

Distributing Essential Services to Farmers During COVID-19

COVID-19 has shown the need for innovative thinking and for many, a quick pivot to digital ways of doing things. At the beginning of planting seasons, information, inputs and other farming resources are in high demand. Farmers need resources to plant for a good harvest and service providers and middlemen need to move goods and services in time.

Switching to digital means the ability to connect and serve more farmers in a safe way. Here are ways organisations that work with farmers can continue to move essential services during peak seasons while still adhering to safety measures during this pandemic.

Use mobile-based solutions 

In Ghana, there are 39.97 million mobile phone connections out of a population of 30.75 million people. But internet penetration is 48% with 14.76 million internet users. The high mobile penetration rate makes mobile more impactful in reaching and providing direct information to farmers living in rural communities during a pandemic.

Through digital communication platforms, organisations can send voice messages in farmers’ local languages and continue to support them with the right information this planting season. One of the things we are most proud of is using our technology to ensure farmers in our network are also receiving WHO health messages through mobile calls. Together with volunteers, we have been recording COVID-19 health advice in local Ghanaian languages. The messages explain what the virus is, how it spreads, the symptoms to look out for, and preventive measures.

Margaret Addai, a farmer in Bipoa, Ashanti Region, explains why receiving these mobile voice messages are crucial for farmers in rural communities,

“We (farmers) live in rural communities, not everyone here has access to a radio set that will help them keep abreast with news and trends. But even the poorest in these communities have access to a handset, so information sent through the mobile phone is the surest way to keep people informed in these times. Once we receive these calls we learn what is going on and are able to put the health information into practice.”

As we minimize physical contact and direct workshop training, we are creating other platforms for farmers to continue to access support. Our field officers are training farmers on best farming practices through phone calls, and farmers can also access support through our call centre.

Aside from these mobile channels, we have also rolled out an IVR-based system for plant disease surveillance in 16 farming communities in Ghana with support from Ausvet and Gates Foundation. Farmers across these communities will now be able to report symptoms from their crop and shortly after receive low-cost management advice through their simple mobile phones. We are hopeful about the impact this service will make in their work especially during these times where they have limited access to extension services and support.When we do meet with our farmers face-to-face in workshops, we are making sure the field agents have protective gear, and the workshops host less than 20 farmers, who all sit one metre apart, while everyone washes their hands regularly at the workshop and the farmers all wear facemasks.

Making sure farmers get their inputs 

For farmers to be able to do their work, they still need to access essential services, like inputs for their farms. Research has shown in Ghana, about 30% of inputs farmers use are below the standard or are unapproved which means farmers are at risk of using fake products on their farms, which is a health-risk and could affect yields. To address this, we work with certified manufacturers and have a robust distribution network. This is especially important now as through our network and using middlemen as the input dealers we can lower the farmers need to travel, and so lower their risk of COVID-19.

Anthony Aliebe is a Farmerline Zonal Director and is in charge of input sourcing from our supplier partners and distribution to our farmers. He says providing these safety measures ensures all our field staff are safe while delivering inputs and other essential services to the farmers. 

Anthony says this focus on essential services during the pandemic is to both sustain businesses and to ensure food security post-COVID-19.

“We conveniently deliver inputs at shops of input dealers. This minimises exposing the input dealers to the virus as they would not have to source or buy their input from the main market centre. Farmers can visit the agro-input shops we work with and can be safe in the knowledge they are getting good products, even in these shops we make sure the shop workers and the farmers have face masks to use,” he explains.

For us, this partnership with shops and dealers is important as it will help in creating more job opportunities in these rural areas. It will also ultimately increase farmers incomes if they have safe and reliable access to inputs. 

Emelia Adu, an input dealer in Atobiase, in the Ashanti Region says Farmerline’s work is keeping her safe.

“COVID-19 has made it difficult for me to travel outside my community to purchase agro-inputs for my shop. But through my partnership with Farmerline, I receive a constant supply of inputs right here at my shop in Atobiase. I am given a flexible repayment plan, and this makes things really easy for me. They have given me free nose masks for my own use and also to distribute to the farmers who buy from me.”

Track farmers’ needs digitally 

In order to efficiently deliver essential services to farmers, it is important to be able to track farmers’ needs digitally and capture sales records.

Most farmers and middlemen like input dealers are unable to keep records of their purchases, record sales and project input demands that will help them in planning and meeting input demand during peak seasons like this.

Through our  Mergdata software, we make sure that input shops and dealers we work with have access to a simple digital platform so they can record their sales and then track demand while having easy to access records. For farmers, we provide each with a digital ID card which has a record of all their financial activities with us and our partners.

“Farmerline has helped me to integrate technology into my work as a farm input dealer. Right here on my phone, I am able to keep track of my daily sales and use this information to track my profit and predict demand. They are bringing a lot of advancement in our business and farming”,

said Derrick Aquah Safo a partner input dealer in Adansi Asokwa.

We have seen major job losses across the globe in all industries, including agriculture, as Anthony says: “Some organisations have reduced their goals and targets for 2020 due to the pandemic. As a result, these organisations undeniably have shrunk their workforce to the new goal.” 

At Farmerline, we are finding new ways of serving farmers, working with partners and creating more jobs and opportunities amid the pandemic by exploring with technology and being open to learn and adapt.

An appreciation to Farmers: The silent heroes & heroines in the fight against COVID-19

Globally, healthcare workers have been lauded for their dedication in treating COVID-19 patients. These outpouring of gratitude have been heartwarming to see. In some countries, citizens in lockdowns have stood out on their balconies, clapping for healthcare workers’ heroic efforts. As we show gratitude to healthcare workers who continue to keep us safe during this pandemic, we will also like to highlight the work of another group of frontline workers who deserve immense praise: farmers.

Across the world, there have been food shortages and supermarkets imposing restrictions on the number of products customers can buy, with some countries temporarily banning the export of rice, for example, to shore up their stocks.

From the packaged food on the shelf to the policy expert who implements measures to protect food security and what you are putting in your pot most likely started with a farmer. 

And while many services have become redundant during this pandemic, food has remained essential to feed populations, and to sustain economies.

Across Africa, farming is key to survival – it accounts for at least 15% of the region’s GDP, and about two-thirds of the African population is employed within the sector, the vast majority working on small-scale farms that currently produce around 90% of all output. 

Despite the pandemic, these farmers still go to their farms. They continue to weed, sow, and harvest during this period, while many of us stay home. Their toil has meant drivers still have goods to transport, factories have raw materials to process, markets still have food to sell, and we can still eat.

Across the continent, these small-scale farms are often not easy places to be, and the reward is rarely equal to the efforts put in. By and large, there are widespread issues with farmers not being able to access financial assistance to improve their businesses, using rudimentary technologies, including not having access to irrigation technologies as well as inputs, like seeds and fertilizers. They are also facing unpredictable climates, which affects planting and harvesting. These are all issues we at Farmerline as well as our partners across the world are trying to address, but like COVID-19 won’t be stamped out tomorrow, these challenges will take time to be overcome.

Farmerline’s Worlali Senyo, says farmers have proven their work is more critical now than ever.

“While various strategies for social distancing and easing lockdown across many countries are ongoing, farmers have the arduous tasks of ensuring production does not stop. In Ghana, the season has already started and farmers cannot wait, they have forged ahead with the business of producing to feed people and for their incomes. However, if this is not managed well and supported could lead to the next global disaster of massive food insecurity.”

He says farmers “are the most critical force in overcoming this pandemic because you can not win a war on an empty stomach.”

So we at Farmerline say a major Ayekoo to farmers here in Ghana, Africa and across the world for their essential work, especially during this pandemic.

Ayekoo!

‘COVID-19 shows the importance of technology in serving farmers’

Meet Ebenezer Oppong

Ebenezer Oppong is the Farmerline Zonal Manager for the Nyinahin Zone, which is made up of Atwima Mponua and Atwima Nwabiagya Districts in the Ashanti Region.

Atwima Mponua and Atwima Nwabiagya Districts in the Ashanti Region.

He is one of Farmerline’s over 200 field agents, whose role is to deliver relevant training and resources to farmers in their communities. With his smartphone in hand, Ebenezer uses the Farmerline’s Mergdata software to register and collect data on farmers, create their digital identities, including generating digital ID cards, conduct credit scoring and monitor loans. With Mergdata, Ebenezer can receive input requests from farmers and their community agents as well as monitor sales and input distribution.

Ebenezer says each day working for Farmerline brings new experiences – learning new lessons, meeting new farmers and helping them overcome their challenges.

However, with Ghana also in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Farmerline is finding ways to continue to serve and engage farmers. With limited travel, field agents like Ebenezer are delivering essential inputs farmers need to cultivate their farms while observing all safety protocols. Ebenezer says the technology Farmerline relies on means he is still able to communicate with the farmers, community agents and agro input dealers he cannot easily reach in these times.

Mergdata provides field agents with information on farmers and insights into field activities that help them to serve farmers

“Because we align our work with technology and we have a platform where we keep data of all our activities and operations, it becomes really easy to stay in touch with farmers and other partners.

I have all the information I need to reach and support farmers on my laptop and my smartphone. This simplifies my work in the field and keeps me connected to our farmers even during these uncertain times.”

A dashboard on Mergdata’s credit scoring feature

If Farmerline relied on manually inputting data, Ebenezer says he would be dealing with a major headache during these times of COVID-19.

Farmers’ challenges are complex and this makes it important to have some key insights on each farmer in order to recommend the right support. If we were doing a lot of things manually, you may skip some key activities or forget some things that you’ve recorded about a farmer. And during such pandemics, farmer engagement would be a real challenge.

Because of Farmerline’s way of operating – using technology and digitising all our operations – we are able to keep track of every activity and monitor the growth and impact we’re having in farmers’ lives. All the insights from the field are available at the tip of my fingers.”

Likewise, the farmers can reach out to him with any concerns, questions or feedback.

“Farmers now see us as partners in increasing their yield and also bringing them up financially,” he explains. “The farmers rely on us for, not only quality inputs but also information which helps them in their daily work.”

Our commitment to Farmers

Our focus from the very beginning has been to create lasting profits for farmers by providing them with the resources and knowledge they require to thrive. With over 80% of our food coming from smallholder farmers, it is obvious that productive and thriving smallholders will contribute greatly to healthy and thriving African economies. But amidst imposed restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are bound to be unintended consequences on food production and supply. With over 250 million hungry people already in Africa, we cannot afford more hungry and desperate Africans at this time.

Our strategy is to work from the bottom up. By getting closer to our farmers in these times, we are learning about their unique challenges and developing solutions that will help them to continue food production that will sustain food supply.

We are also maximising the use of digital tools to engage farmers. Together with selfless volunteers and partners, our teams are working around the clock to keep farmers informed about COVID-19 and how they can protect their households at this time.

Read more about our COVID-19 messages to farmers here.


#LeaveNoFarmerBehind

COVID-19; how we are working to keep farmers and employees safe

Ghana has not been spared from the COVID-19 global pandemic. As countries across the world instigate lockdowns, close borders and advocate social distancing, we here at Farmerline have also been changing how we work. We want to keep safe and keep supporting our farmers and Ghana’s food value chain. We are also strongly focusing on keeping our farmers informed as to how they can stay healthy and keep doing their vital work.

Since Ghana confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 on March 12, Farmerline’s 54 staff, split between our offices in Accra and Kumasi, have quickly changed how we work.

When Ghana announced the first cases, we allowed team members who commute to work via public transport to work from home if they wished. However, as the cases increased and Ghana initiated a partial lockdown, we have moved all of our meetings online.

Adwoa Adadzewa Afrifa, Farmerline’s Acting Head of Corporate Operations is working to make sure our team members in Accra and Kumasi have the logistics and systems they need to operate.

“We have ensured our staff have data to work from home, and regular check-ins with team leaders to ensure all needs are addressed. We have also ensured our field staff have the IDs and resources they need to continue serving farmers,” Adwoa says.

Farmerline, like many other organisations across the world, has had to deal with challenges due to COVID-19, including altering plans and postponing activities because team members cannot be present in person. However, Adwoa says these challenges are also bringing the team closer together.

“We have learnt how resilient and innovative people can be in the face of unplanned situations like this. Our teams have been very collaborative during these times, and we have witnessed a true demonstration of one of our key values; succeed together,” Adwoa says.

Working with farmers during COVID-19

It is not only our team members in the offices who we need to think about during COVID-19. Farmerline remains dedicated to smallholder farmers. Our field agents are delivering essential inputs farmers need to cultivate their farms while observing all safety protocols.

We are also reaching out to farmers across Ghana through mobile voice messages to give them vital information and awareness of COVID-19. These messages are going out in local languages.

So far, 7,844 farmers have received 43,732.5 minutes of COVID-19 tips in Twi

We are also running a campaign on social media to enlist volunteers to record voice messages in 13 additional local languages. Volunteers are recording messages in Ga, Ewe, Dagbani, Hausa, Fante, Bono, Dagaare, Sisaala, Frafra, Nzema, Gonja, Mampruli, Waale.

Using World Health Organisation information, the messages explain what the virus is, how it spreads, the symptoms to look out for, and who is most at risk from it. They also detail how farmers can protect themselves from it and what to do if they fall sick. 

Margaret Addai, a cocoa farmer in Bipoa, which is in the Ashanti Region, has received the messages in Twi. She says the messages are crucial for farmers like her.  Without them, she says she would not have been aware of the risk everyone faces from COVID-19.

“We (farmers) live in rural communities; not everyone here has access to a radio set that will help them keep abreast with news and trends. But even the poorest in these communities have access to a handset, so information sent through the mobile phone is the surest way to keep people informed in these times,” she tells us.

“Once they receive these calls, they will learn what is going on and be able to put the tips into practice. Not everyone is aware of these protective measures that Farmerline shares with us. For instance, some people will mostly wash their hands when they are about to eat. But with the education people become more aware and wash their hands more often.”

If you work with a farmer group that will benefit from this service contact us via email: team@farmerline.co

If you would like to volunteer to record messages in local languages, please send an email to team@mergdata.com

FARMERLINE’S MERGDATA NAMED TO TIME’S LIST OF 100 BEST INVENTIONS OF 2019

Today, TIME reveals its annual list of the 100 Best Inventions that are making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun. Featured on this list, is Ghanaian-founded Farmerline’s proprietary software, Mergdata

Mergdata is a web and mobile application that is powering over 200,000 farmers across 13 African countries. The software’s modules for farmer profiling, mapping, certification, traceability, messaging and digital payments are used by over 60 organizations to qualify and provide farmers with the necessary resources they need to increase productivity and profit.

To assemble the 2019 TIME Best Inventions list, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories from editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. Each contender was then evaluated on key factors, including originality, effectiveness, ambition and influence. The result: 100 groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible.

In recognition of this nod, Famerline’s Chief Technical Officer, Emmanuel O. Addai, said,

“This is an endorsement of our avowed principle to use technology to solve the everyday problems of farmers across Africa. Kudos to our dedicated engineers, past and present, who have supported the vision all these years”.

Farmerline is a Ghanaian company that focuses on creating lasting profit for farmers through direct efforts and partnerships. In Ghana, the company uses digital tools and a network of well-trained field agents to provide input financing and intensive training to over 12,000 farmers.

Read Farmerline’s feature here: https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2019/5733119/farmerline-mergdata/

See the full list here: time.com/bestinventions2019

Farmerline Steps up Efforts to Increase Youth Engagement in the Cocoa Value Chain

Farmerline has launched a game which seeks to educate and incentivise Ghanaian youth into partaking in the cocoa value chain. The game introduces an added experience to Farmerline’s CocoaLink mobile application by bridging the divide between learning and having fun. At the same time, it reels in the attention of the younger generation into different aspects of the cocoa value chain, and the opportunities available to them. 

The game employs the format of the popular TV show, ‘Who Wants To Be Rich’. The goal of the game is to attain 1,000,000 points by answering 15 questions on cocoa and chocolate. As part of the launch, a quiz competition will run till the 30th of December with winners announced each week based on the total score on the leaderboard at the end of the week. Even though it is open to young people, cocoa and chocolate lovers, the quiz is limited to only players in Ghana. 

The Cocoalink app was created by Farmerline in partnership with Hershey and World Cocoa Foundation to train farmers, and encourage Ghanaian youth to be involved in the Cocoa value chain through interactive digital media contents on the mobile application. With over 5,000 app downloads, users have spent 92,000+ minutes learning best agricultural and business practices on the app, CocoaLink has established itself as a resourceful and timely tool for farmers and extension officers across the country. Together with partners like the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, the application has been able to contribute to the adoption of Climate Smart agriculture practices through its Cocoa Zones feature.

5000 + Downloads

92,000+ mins spent learning

Download the CocoaLink App today and start learning!


Designing Meaningful Experiences at Farmerline – Oluwatobi Babalola (UX Designer)

October 7, 2018… I took a one-way flight to Ghana to resume as a User Experience Designer at Farmerline. It was a tough decision for me as I had lived all my life in Nigeria and spent most of those years in Lagos, Nigeria. I had told my folks I would return to Lagos after 6 months if I was unable to cope.

The journey so far has been filled with unique experiences that, when put together, have shaped me into the kind of designer I am today. One amazing moment for me was seeing some lead farmers and field agents use our designs. They were excited to use the product but at some point, they struggled. It really helped me understand that usability testing is a key part of design and development. It is important to see your users use products you built so you can build better experiences for them. We had to fix and re-test the parts they struggled with so that they can use the feature seamlessly.

It is a year now and it feels like I joined yesterday, I am alive, here, and still pushing pixels at Farmerline. Over the last year, much of my work has been dedicated to designing features and products that provide relevant and meaningful experiences to the entire agriculture value chain from organisations to lead farmers. It’s been challenging as expected and I am grateful for the amazing support I get from my teammates.

It’s been challenging as expected and I am grateful for the amazing support I get from my teammates.

WHO IS THE FARMER’S PARTNER FOR GROWTH?

According to Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, to every extension officer, there are about 2000 farmers who need to be served with information and resources. The disproportionate number of extension officers means that many farmers go about their farming activities with little guidance, support and insight into best practices that will increase their productivity and efficiency.

Abigail Kyiriw is one of such farmers who has worked hard and tirelessly with little supervision over the years. She started her farming career as an apprentice on her father’s farm at age 20. She grows cocoa, plantain, pawpaw on 8 acres of land and rears sheep and fowls in Atwea, a farming community in the Ashanti Region. Abigail, now 52 years, has built a successful career in agriculture, receiving awards for the best farmer in her district on a number of occasions. Together with her husband, who is also a farmer, they have raised and educated their 5 children through their farming business. Despite her industry, Abigail shares that working as a farmer comes with enormous challenges.

Farming is a very demanding trade and farmers need all the support we can get to be successful in this space. Markets change, practices get advanced and now the weather patterns are also changing. It’s October and rains are as heavy as they were in June

said Abigail.

Aside from the limited guidance that farmers receive,  farmers have to deal with the risk of buying fake inputs. According to research by the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation and Monitor Deloitte in 2019, 30% of insecticides on the Ghanaian market are unapproved or smuggled. The seasonality of their crops also means farmers may not have enough money throughout the year to purchase quality inputs.

About six months ago, Abigail discovered a companion for farming business when Farmerline carried out a Farmer workshop in Atwea.

I had heard of the good works of Farmerline on the radio, so I was excited when they came to my community. I recognised immediately the role they will play to help me overcome pertinent challenges as a farmer so I did not hesitate to get the Farmerline card and sign up for their services.

Abigail Kyiriw and other farmers at a farmer workshop organised by Farmerline

Abigail now receives the guidance she had been lacking and weather forecasts on her mobile phone regularly. Aside from this, Abigail has been benefiting from Farmerline’s input credit program, under which she is provided with quality farm inputs that she can pay for on a later date.

“I get regular calls on weather forecasts and better ways to farm while I am on my farm. For me, these calls are not only informative but they really give me a lot of hope to do a good job as a farmer. I feel I have a companion who is always checking on me and giving guidance to succeed”, said Abigail Kyiriw.

Abigail is also the secretary of the Farmerline Farmer group in her community. She dedicates herself to organising group meetings, keeping records of the group and liaising with the Farmerline Zonal officer in her area.

“I have volunteered to help other farmers in my community benefit from the companionship and support I get from Farmerline. I want every farmer to become self-reliant and to be able to live decent lives.”

LAST MILE HEROES: Richard Brown; building relationships that create relevant solutions for smallholder farmers

The most robust solutions are often found when a bridge can be built between technical knowledge and experiential knowledge. Farmerline is an organisation that reinforces the need for such solutions in driving up productivity in the agriculture value chain. The company has been successful in its efforts because its team embodies this principle. Meet Richard Brown, one of the team members at Farmerline who combines his academic and practical know-how in his daily work with farmers.

Richard is a Zonal Manager at Farmerline. His work entails leading a team of smartphone-empowered field and community agents who bring Farmerline’s solutions to farmers in communities in the Asante Akim Central, North and South Districts. He has a degree in Agriculture, and field experience from time spent on his grandparents’ cocoa farm and prior job experience with Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Ministry. Richard’s knowledge and experience have made him cognizant of the need to build relationships with community heads and farmers in order to bring forth relevant solutions that will create lasting profit.

Read Richard’s interview, below:

  • How did you join Farmerline on its mission for farmers?

I joined Farmerline through a post a friend shared on his Facebook wall; I saw the position being advertised; the job description and I was fascinated about the mission of the Company and I decided to apply so I can impact in the lives of our rural Farmers.

I have always had an interest in Agriculture. My grandparents are Cocoa Farmers and I have had the opportunity of helping them on their farm activities. My education in agriculture and experiences in the field have enabled me to see the vast opportunities in the Agriculture value chain. There are numerous challenges rural farmers are facing that can be improved with access to the right resources and information. These challenges present avenues for innovative solutions like Farmerline. I am also very confident that these solutions coupled with the adoption of technology in farming can go a long way to improve the industry’s contribution to the growth of our economy.

Richard Brown interacting with farmers in the field
  • As a Zonal Manager, how do you lead your team to achieve set goals?

I lead a team of two Zonal Officers and 79 Community Agents in my operational areas. Our focus anytime we go into a new farming community is to understand the peculiar needs of the farmers and build a relationship based on trust with community heads and farmers. This is how we are able to successfully offer our solutions for improved farmer productivity. Farmers have vast knowledge in fieldwork even though some of their practices are flawed. So out in the field, we interact with them to exchange knowledge. They tell us how they go about their work and how they deal with challenges. We help farmers to see how new practices and technology can make their work and lives better. We provide all farmers with digital identity cards which enables them to access our mobile extension services and inputs on credit. We are basically extension officers whose work are enhanced by technology. 

A farmer sharing his farming experiences and challenges during a community workshop
  • How do you and your team stay motivated throughout the challenges on the field?

The impact we are making in the lives of Farmers is what keeps us motivated. It is always a proud moment when we see our technology and education on better agronomic practices increasing their yields and incomes. We are always elated when we deliver their input requests on time because we know that timely input delivery is very important to their productivity.
Farmerline’s regular training also provides us skills that help us to better engage, educate and identify farmers’ challenges. This also enhances our ability to offer relevant solutions to farmers.

  • In your experience, what are some of the opportunities that are available for young people in agriculture? 

More than ever, young people today, have the opportunity to transform the agriculture sector because of their exposure to technology. With technology, they can bridge the access gap and offer services to the industry across the value chain in the area of commercialization, sales and marketing of produce and processing of agricultural produce.

Learn more about Farmerline’s 399 services for smallholder farmers and its unique distribution model.



What matters most to farmers in this time of COVID?
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Distributing Essential Services to Farmers During COVID-19
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An appreciation to Farmers: The silent heroes & heroines in the fight against COVID-19
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