LAST MILE HEROES: Evans Boateng, pursuing his passion one farming community at a time

Farmerline operates a distribution model that combines technology and a network of field agents to deliver information and resources that improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in rural areas. Farmerline’s growing field agent network is made up of a hierarchy of people who move these services from national centres all the way to individual farmers in farming communities.

Evans Osei Boateng leads Farmerline’s field team for the Agona Zone of the company’s operation in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Growing up in a farming household, Evans has witnessed firsthand the challenges of operating a farm without the needed resources. Now at Farmerline, he leads a team of field and community agents who cater to farmers within the Sekyere South, Mampong Municipal and Sekyere Central Districts in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. In this interview, we learn about how Evans’ passion for farming is fueling his day-to-day activities as a field agent and how he runs his team to provide Farmerline’s 399 services to over 5,000 smallholder farmers.

 

What are you responsible for as a Zonal Manager?

I am responsible for managing Farmerline’s Farmer Services in the Sekyere South(Agona), Mampong Municipal and Sekyere Central(Nsuta) in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, West Africa.

My work includes educating farmers about Farmerline’s services as well as good agricultural practices that improve their yields. I ensure that farmers get access to weather information, agronomic tips, market prices and affordable inputs through our 399 platform. We do this by regularly organising farmer workshops & visits in the farming communities within the three districts. I also manage a network of agents and local input dealers who help us to connect to farmers, distribute our services within the zone and maintain our relationship with farmers. I am assisted by Zonal Officers who are also in charge of the community agents.

 

Why did you decide to work in agriculture and at Farmerline?

I grew up in a family that worked in the sector. I saw how my family benefited from agriculture and this made me develop a love for farming at an early age. But there were challenges such as difficulty in accessing inputs and agriculture-related information since the agric extension officers were not always readily available. For me, Farmerline’s goal to bridge the gap between farmers and resources they require to increase their productivity is very personal, I relate to it very much. Joining Farmerline was an opportunity for me to improve family businesses and lives of many people living in farming communities who depend on farming for their livelihood. I am now able to help farmers with the kind of services that my family couldn’t have access to. 

Describe a typical day as a Zonal Manager.

The day starts very early for a Zonal Manager because we work with farmers who rise up early to visit their farms. On a typical day, my Zonal Officers and I attend pre-scheduled farmer workshops to introduce Farmerline services and products to new communities. Before these workshops, we make sure to connect and build relationships with the leaders and other key members of the community. We spend time educating the farmers on best agriculture practices during these workshops. We interact with the farmers to understand their needs and take their details with which we create digital profiles for them. My team and I also take farm input orders from these farmers who usually live far from input suppliers. We ensure that these orders are delivered to the farmers on time.

We also use the opportunity to get feedback from previously profiled farmers about our services and address any concerns they may have. 

 

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

As a Zonal Manager, I feel accomplished when a farmer in a community within which we operate is able to improve their yields and profit through our services.  As a person with an Agricultural background and also having witnessed firsthand the challenges of smallholder farmers, I feel very fulfilled when through my daily activities farmers get information and quality inputs they need to improve their farming activities. You can tell their joy by the smiles on their faces whenever we visit and also through the recommendations they make to other farmers about Farmerline.

What are your hopes for the agriculture sector?

I hope to see the sector grow to be able to adequately produce enough food to feed the country and reduce our need to import food from other countries. I also hope that in the near future we will witness more farmers managing their farming activities as businesses that will churn out lasting profits through the help and support of the various stakeholders such as the Government and private organizations like Famerrline.

 

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

How legwork supports the delivery of technology solutions to the agricultural last mile

A vital part of the agricultural value chain is the last mile. This is the part of the chain where direct relationships and transactions with the farmer take place. The last mile is the sweet spot of the agriculture value chain and improving its operations has direct impacts throughout the value chain; from empowering the farmer to increasing the quality of food on a consumers’ plate.  In recent times, there has been a lot of focus on improving last mile transactions with technology.

In order to fully realise the solutions that tech provides to the last mile, it is important that direct human contacts are built into the operationalisation of the technology. This will ensure that end-users have a better appreciation of the solution. The legwork is even more important for innovations that are deployed in developing regions. The legwork will help farmers to overcome their barriers to resources. Some of the barriers in these regions are remoteness of credit facilities and input services, poor road network, limited internet access and language barrier.

Poor road access, language barrier and limited access to technology are some real challenges that face the distribution of last mile innovations in developing countries

With an understanding of these challenges, Farmerline uniquely combines digital technology and a network of field agents to deliver information and resources that empower the smallholder farmer to increase their productivity and their bargaining power during last mile transactions. Farmerline’s growing field agent network is made up of a hierarchy of people who move products and services from national centres all the way to individual farmers in farming communities.

 

Some ways in which technology and legwork come together at Farmerline

LEGWORK THAT HELPS TO UNDERSTAND SYSTEMS AND PROVIDE BEFITTING SOLUTIONS

Farmerline Field Agents connect directly with leaders and influencers in farming communities to appreciate their needs before introducing technology solutions

Most smallholder farmers live in communal settings. In order to access and deliver impactful solutions to farmers, it is critical to give reverence to their community governance systems and understand how they work. Field agents’ first build relationships with community leaders and influential people in farming communities to understand the needs of farmers.

 

INFORMATION GATHERING FOR IDENTIFICATION AND PERSONALISATION

Field agents take information from farmers to build farmer profiles and provide them with tailored services

 

In order to provide services that deliver on each farmer’s needs, field agents put together a digital profile of the farmer, containing basic information as well as their farming assets and activities. This digital profile helps to identify the farmer, enables the farmer to benefit from Farmerline’s services and most importantly helps to track every transaction between Farmerline and the farmer. This digital identity gradually grows to become an economic identity that captures the farmer’s transactional history and assets, positioning them to benefit from credit and insurance facilities.

 

DELIVERING LOCATION-SPECIFIC & NEEDS-SPECIFIC INFORMATION

Farmers receive all information in their prefered native language via their mobile devices

 

The information gathered through field agents enables Farmerline to learn about the unique needs of each farmer. This enables us to shape service delivery to the profiled farmers. Farmers receive information that is aligned with the type of crop they grow and the season. Good agricultural practices and market prices are examples of such tailored messages disseminated to the farmers. The legwork has also ensured that weather monitors are installed at key points to detect and deliver weather forecasts for specific communities. All these information are delivered as a voice message in the native language of the farmer.

 

INPUT DELIVERY

Farmerline delivers farm inputs directly to farmers to ensure convenience and affordability

 

Making inputs available to farmers in rural communities means delivering affordable and quality products at the right time throughout the season. Farmerline’s technology allows farmers to place orders for inputs via a USSD platform on their mobile phones. Additionally, Farmerline’s well-distributed field agents assist farmers to place orders for inputs. The order is detected and approved farm inputs are delivered through the agent network to the farmer at a price below the market value. Farmers do not pay for the cost of delivery.

 

By combining technology with legwork, Farmerline is able to gather on-the-ground data that enables it to understand the unique needs of the farmers.  The services that are offered to farmers are therefore relevant, accessible and affordable. Enabling farmers to increase their income while reducing cost. Farmerline’s model builds innovation from the ground up, backed by insightful data from the real end users. Services can be more impactful in developing countries if the uniques systems and needs of the people are used to build solutions. Personal contacts from field agents further humanise the solutions offered and builds a unique bond between farmers and the company. This enables Farmerline to be in a great position to transform more smallholder Farmers in the developing world into successful entrepreneurs.

Farmerline’s technology distribution model has enabled it to build a strong bond with smallholder farmers.

 

Also, learn more about Farmerline’s 399 Services for Farmers and Mergdata technology for Businesses.

A Fellow’s Experience at Farmerline -Elisa Criscione

Elisa Criscione joined Farmerline as a fellow from October 2018 to March 2019. She supported the Corporate Services unit to manage client projects. In this article, Elisa shares her work experience during her 6-months stay in Ghana and how her work with Farmerline has shaped her perspective on the food and agriculture industry.  (more…)

The African Development Bank Supports Farmerline to Scale its Impact

Farmerline is one of 17 thriving agribusinesses to benefit from the African Development Bank’s $23 million grant under the Agriculture Fast Track Fund. The investment will be used by 17 projects across the continent for feasibility studies, market analysis, environmental and social impact assessments in Africa’s agriculture sector. The investees are expected to receive between $100,000 and $1.5 million dollars

 

As a recipient of this grant, Farmerline’s Farmer Services operation has been recognised as one of the most impactful Agric projects on the continent. The fast-growing company will use their part of the grant to research more innovative solutions for smallholder farmers. The company has contributed to increasing farm yields through the provision of quality and affordable inputs to the doorsteps of farmers. Customers are also provided with real-time mobile farming tips, location-specific weather information and market prices in local languages.

 

“Farmerline is excited to welcome the Africa Development Bank among other partners who support us to create lasting profit for smallholder farmers. This investment will scale the impact of our work with farmers in our operational areas and beyond”, said Co-founder and CEO of Farmerline, Alloysius Attah.
The company combines technology and a network of field agents to bring resources and knowledge to the doorstep of these sometimes ‘hard-to-reach’ farmers. Some of their innovative solutions include creating digital profiles for farmers and enabling farmers to track their economic activities over time. Farmerline’s digital solutions for farmers are aslo focused on ensuring financial inclusion of farmers which has a direct impact on crop yield.

Financial Inclusion for Farmers in Ghana; the Real Picture and Real Solutions

 

Smallholder farmers in Ghana have complex economic activities. Though a huge chunk of their income is made through crop sales, most farmers engage in other non-agricultural and Agric related activities to earn some supplementary cash.
According to a 2019 GSMA report, a large percentage of these monies are reinvested into their farms through input buying, paying for farm labour and other farming related costs. The rest of the income goes into paying bills, school fees and other livelihoods. A key factor that makes their economic activities even more complex is the seasonality of their income. This is especially the case of farmers who grow seasonal crops like cocoa. Depending on the crop cycle, their financial needs tend to vary throughout the year. For cocoa farmers, the months of August, September and October see the most capital-intensive investments towards farm labour and inputs like fertilisers that will enable the crops to grow well for their main harvest season from October to December. For the other parts of the year, farmers will require varying capitals for fungicides, land preparation, farming tools and household bills.

 

ACCESS TO FINANCE

Most smallholder farmers live in rural areas with limited access to financial services like savings accounts. As a result, 36% of farmers in Ghana save their monies at home. According to GSMA,  only 20% save their money in a bank and 28% save their monies on a mobile money wallet. Others save with village institutions, credit unions and ‘susu’ (small personal savings) collectors.
Aside proximity, their lack of documentation presents a huge barrier to accessing financial services like loan facilities and insurance. Globally, the lack of documentation is one of the key reasons why 1.7 billion adults are unbanked. Similarly, most of the economic activities of smallholder farmers listed above are poorly documented. Some may have hardcopy receipts and other manual records which cannot be processed by formal financial institutions. Documentation for farmers is also a challenge because of their multiple transactions with different stakeholders in the value chain. This means that no single entity has a full transactional history of farmers.
Formal institutions like banks are unable to access this information to understand the economic activities of a farmer who is usually regarded as high risk. As a result, Farmers usually secure loans from other informal sources like friends, purchasing clerks (who are also usually farmers), money lenders who charge high interests. Some also secure loans from rural banks.

 

FARMERLINE’S SOLUTIONS

Through partnerships with MNOs, input dealers, agribusinesses, crop-certification bodies, and government entities, Farmerline is able to build digital information on smallholder farmers to supplement their existing financial data. We have developed a number of digital solutions that provide farmer identification as well as, flexible and innovative means of documenting all farm-related transactions.

 

Digital Profiling:
Farmers can secure a digital profile which captures their personal details such as image, name, contact information and age. The profile also includes asset details like farm size and location. This information is saved onto a digitized identification card which is used during all transactional activities like input buying and hiring tools. The card digitally saves all these transactions of the farmer for future records.

 

All inputs purchase from Farmerline are captured onto the digital ID cards by Farmerline

 

Digital Records of Assets:
Farmerline’s Mergdata platform allows for auto and manual mapping of farmlands of varying sizes. The GPS-enabled tool digitally captures the location, boundaries and size of the farmer’s primary asset. This stores up asset information which may be vital when assessing the creditworthiness of a farmer who is seeking a loan.

Farmlands are key assets that can be used in assessing a Farmer’s creditworthiness.

 

Digital Finance:

Farmerline’s Farmer Services digital solutions include digital payments through mobile money platforms. All inputs that are bought can be paid with mobile money. Soft loans and credits from Farmerline are repaid through mobile money. Mobile finance allows farmers to also receive payments, credits and layaway money for farm inputs. All payments and purchases with Farmerline are also captured and stored on the farmer’s digital profile, adding to his/her transactional history.

 

Farmerline’s digital platform for Farmers enables mobile money payments which are captured and recorded onto Farmer’s digital profiles for record keeping

 

The combined effect of these solutions is that farmers are given an economic identity backed with well documented economic activities that can enable them to access financial services easier. Farmerline’s technology and enabling partnerships, ensure that all transactional records of farmers are available on a single platform. The digital nature of the information gathered over time can easily be made available to formal institutions who operate digitally, providing them with insights into a farmer’s economic history and behaviour.

Farmerline’s digital solutions for farmers are focused on ensuring financial inclusion of farmers which has a direct impact on crop yield.

 

*This article is written on the back of key findings from GSMA’s Mobile-enabled Economic Identities for Smallholder Farmers in Ghana, 2019 and other researches on financial inclusion.

Farmerline launches new CocoaLink Service: A free mobile app that puts the power of mobile technology in farmers’ hands

  • Mobile application builds on success of CocoaLink’s voice messaging service
  • New service focuses on empowering next generation of farmers
  • Partnership with The Hershey Company will help youth to build and grow successful farm businesses in the cocoa sector

The combination of an aging farmer population, limited access to extension services and lack of professionalization continues to pose challenges to the sustainable future of cocoa farming in West Africa. There is a general lack of interest in farming among the youth who see no future in cocoa farming as a business due to lack of inspiring role models and coaching; limited access to training, inputs and finance; and a lack of requisite farming knowledge. This results in migration to urban areas in search of limited jobs. At the same time, mobile penetration in Ghana is very high, driving digital transformation and posing significant opportunity for accelerating change in the cocoa sector and agriculture in general. Almost half of Ghana’s population has mobile internet access, the second highest rate in West Africa, and young people across the country, and in rural areas, are increasingly going online to play games and use apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. To respond to this challenge and opportunity, Farmerline, in partnership with The Hershey Company (Hershey), has launched a new service for CocoaLink: a simple application that enables smartphone-empowered farmers to acquire actionable knowledge on how to run a profitable agribusiness and succeed as an entrepreneur. CocoaLink allows customized support during a longer period of time and upscaling to reach critical masses. The CocoaLink mobile app features weather information and free courses and quizzes on climate smart agriculture and income diversification. It also features access to finance, discounts on agro-inputs and social media linkages. Content has been integrated through partners such as World Cocoa Foundation’s industry-recognized Climate Smart Cocoa program. While piloting CocoaLink with android users, the Farmerline team received increasing demand for the app from non-android users. This led to the development of an AI powered Farm Assistant built on top of Facebook Messenger to serve non-android users. The users on this platform can now access an abridged version of CocoaLink through the bot. Upon typing “Farm Assistant Bot” in their Messenger application, Facebook users can ask questions as well as access selected articles and quizzes to learn more about profitable farming. “Africa has the youngest population in the world and her youth are poised to create wealth for themselves and their communities. CocoaLink will help this smartphone-empowered generation to make money through agribusinesses and in particular cocoa production,” said Farmerline’s CEO, Alloysius Attah. CocoaLink originally consisted of only a voice messaging service, launched several years ago by Hershey, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the World Cocoa Foundation, which enables farmers with basic-feature phones to continue to receive regular agricultural tips in their local language. The new mobile app service has been ideated and funded by Hershey, in partnership with Farmerline. Hershey believes that in order to elevate youth, barriers to information and knowledge need to be lowered and ways of engagement need to be more customized to the target group. This thinking is reflected in Hershey’s recently launched strategy, Cocoa for Good. Recognizing the need to show youth that farming can be entrepreneurial and profitable, Farmerline and Hershey collaborated to develop and pilot the new application with Hershey’s growers in Ghana. “Youth play a critical role in the future of cocoa farming, and we need to give them the tools and training they need to succeed. Farmerline, as our local partner, has brought CocoaLink to the growing number of smartphone users to give in-depth and customized content and support to today’s and the next generation of cocoa farmers,” said Jeff King, Hershey’s Senior Director CSR, Social Innovation & Sustainability.

About Farmerline

Established in 2013, Farmerline is a global and award winning social enterprise that leverages modern technology and data to connect small-scale farmers to vital services and information that increase profit. The fast growing company provides information, resources, and financial services directly to farmers through innovative mobile technology. Farmerline has a proprietary software platform called Mergdata that offers decentralized traceability, certification audit, farm mapping, farmer education, and analytics solutions to help organizations that work with farmers achieve their sustainability and food security goals efficiently. This technology has collected insights from over 200,000 farmers across 11 countries, mapped over 700,000 acres of land, and farmers have spent over 300,000 minutes learning best practices on the platform. In 2018, the company has been named by Fast Company as Africa’s second most innovative company.

About The Hershey Company

The Hershey Company, headquartered in Hershey, Pa., is a global confectionery company known for bringing goodness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints and other great-tasting snacks. Hershey has approximately 17,000 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company has more than 80 brands around the world that drive more than $7.5 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. Building on its core business, Hershey is expanding its portfolio to include a broader range of delicious snacks. At Hershey, goodness has always been about more than delicious products. For more than 120 years, Hershey has been committed to operating fairly, ethically and sustainably. Hershey founder, Milton Hershey, created the Milton Hershey School in 1909 and since then the company has focused on giving underserved children the skills and support they need to be successful. Today, the company continues this social purpose through ‘Nourishing Minds,’ a global initiative that provides basic nutrition to help children learn and grow. To learn more Visit the Hershey company website.

Farmerline’s Schandorf Bright Adu selected for OFID Scholarship for One Young World Summit 2017

Farmerline’s Director of Farmer Services, Schandorf Bright Adu, been selected for the OFID Scholarship to attend the upcoming One Young World Summit 2017 in Bogota, Colombia (4-7 October).

Schandorf joins passionate young leaders from 196 countries who will descend on Bogotá for the summit, which brings together the most valuable young talent from global and national companies, NGOs, universities and other forward-thinking organisations.

With recognised leaders of integrity like former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus lending their global stature to the delegate’s views as well as inspiring them to create positive change, Schandorf will play an active role in debating, formulating and sharing innovative solutions for the pressing issues that the world faces.

Having demonstrated leadership and affecting positive change through Farmerline’s farmer workshops and agent training in rural communities, Schandorf pointed out that it is an honour for One Young World to recognize Farmerline’s work with smallholder farmers in Africa.

“Getting an opportunity to network with leading experts in my field is always great. With Farmerline at a critical stage of its growth, where we are seeking to scale up operations to penetrate new markets and to improve the standards of living for farmers across the developing world, this summit will help us learn innovative solutions to global issues.”

Farmerline’s Schandorf Adu Bright delivers insecticide to Dwomoh Kwasi Christopher at his cocoa farm in Kyekyewere, Assin South District, Ghana. Farmerline has started distributing farming implements like insecticide and fertiliser to farmers at subsidised rates alongside providing farming tips through their Mergdata service.

Schandorf also clarified that while Farmerline’s Mergdata technology is already scalable and globally applicable, there are certain legal and cultural nuances in each regional market that Farmerline must understand to create the most effective product.

“Connecting with delegates that are experts in this field will be incredibly helpful in expediting this process. It will allow us to reach more investors and help us identify and form partnerships with other organizations in our field,” he added.

What the Farmerline Fellowship is about?

How is our fellowship program a rare opportunity for interns to achieve meaningful work and innovative impact?

As we grow, we are excited to bring driven, motivated and passionate interns to join the Farmerline team.

Thus, the Farmerline Fellowship is an initiative designed to give young leaders around the world a chance to have real life experience on the front lines of a social change enterprise.

We place our fellows in high-impact leadership positions within the company where they leverage their talents and experiences to develop innovative solutions to the complex and challenging problems that we’re committed to helping solve.

This fellowship program also presents interns with a tangible opportunity to nurture and use the skills needed to succeed in a career centred in their area of expertise. During their time at Farmerline, fellows will build on their strengths and address areas of development. The fellowship initiative will prepare them for leadership in both public and private sectors, and to work across all spheres of global society: business, government, civil society and academia. They will learn through peers and projects, all within an immensely diverse community of individuals united in their drive and commitment to improving the state of the world.

For our CEO and Co-Founder, Alloysius Attah, the Farmerline Fellowship program is a journey of individual development and helping the company achieve its mission. “When we think about how to build our team, the first thing we think about is the culture we want to create. At Farmerline, we don’t see ourselves as a company with employees that have jobs, but rather as a community of passionate people. And together with our fellows, we will work on our long term vision to fundamentally empower smallholder farmers into successful entrepreneurs.”

He also adds that our fellowship process puts a lot of emphasis on passion, team fit, creativity and the desire to want to see farmers flourish.

As part of our team, fellows will alongside our staff to develop and implement leading business strategies that help build a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

With this initiative, fellows will be taken through a high-intensity, hands-on, immersive experience to help them begin the impact career they’ve always wanted. Our fellows make a difference by contributing unique skill sets that are needed within their placement agencies.

Our fellowship is centred on professional development challenges and relationship building with like-minded professionals that will last a lifetime.

The hiring of 11 new fellows signals a new era for Farmerline.

The recruits join us through the “Farmerline Fellowship” program, an initiative we have designed to give young leaders around the world a chance to have real life experience on the front lines of a social change enterprise.

With our growth across the continent over the last four years and recent office expansions in the US and Switzerland, we are beyond excited to announce the arrival of eleven (11) new fellows to join the Farmerline team.

As part of our team, the new fellows will work alongside our staff as they leverage their talent and experiences to develop leading business strategies as well as implement innovative solutions to the complex and challenging problems that we’re committed to helping solve.

The recruits join us through our newly-established “Farmerline Fellowship” program, an initiative we have designed to give young leaders around the world a chance to have real life experience on the front lines of a social change enterprise. The recruits have been placed in high-impact leadership positions within the company where they will complement and enhance our ability to meet the needs of our customers as we continue to grow and provide quality, innovative solutions.

Our CEO and Co-Founder, Alloysius Attah, believes the “Farmerline Fellowship” initiative is a journey of individual development for the new recruits, as well as helping the company achieve its mission.

“When we think about how to build our team, the first thing we think about is the culture we want to create. At Farmerline, we don’t see ourselves as a company with employees that have jobs, but rather as a community of passionate people. And together with our fellows, we will work on our long term vision to fundamentally empower smallholder farmers into successful entrepreneurs,” he said.

“This fellowship process puts a lot of emphasis on passion, team fit, creativity and the desire to want to see farmers flourish. It aims to prepare fellows for leadership in an increasingly complex and ambiguous world, addressing some of the most difficult problems in the world,” he added.

Meet the fellows, in their own words…

Ian Campbell, Northeastern University

“What attracted me to Farmerline was the opportunity to be creative and do what I love to do – help a startup grow in an entirely new environment. I’m currently a 3rd-year college student studying at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and this is my second co-op experience working for a company for 6 months. I’m very much dedicated to growing the media department and developing the best strategic visual content in our field. My goal at Farmerline is to tell the stories of the farmers and spread the impact of the work that we are doing throughout Ghana, Africa, and the world.”

Dzifa Nanam, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

“I joined Farmerline because I wanted to get involved and see how technology and information can be made easily accessible and beneficial to farmers. Applying the knowledge acquired in lectures and tutorials to the real working environment of a software developer and in the process learn where I short intriguing for me. My time here so far has been very encouraging and not stifling in the sense that personal development is a priority since it makes the company more capable and proficient in activities.”

Marisa Rudolph, Santa Clara University

“I have been studying agriculture at university and was looking for an opportunity to apply this knowledge in real life. Farmerline caught my eye with their mission statement which focuses on empowering farmers. This type of support creates systemic change, a method of change which I really believe in and can see working daily at Farmerline’s office. I’m looking forward to contributing to Farmerline’s ability to know how the impact their work has on farmers’ livelihoods and to be able to communicate this information effectively to all Farmerline’s stakeholders”

Clement Osei, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

“As a Computer Science Student, Farmerline’s mission and vision attracted me. With the programming skills I have, I hope to do my best in helping with the software engineering aspects of the company, as well as learn to improve. My time here, so far, has been fun and educative.”

Pranit Garg, Frontier Marketing Scout Fellow

“Farmerline was compelling to me because I would be able to make a significant contribution to it. Also, I love that we are a social enterprise that makes a measurable on the lives of farmers. As we aim to expand our operations, I’ll write a lot of grants to various banks and business accelerators to help make this possible. I hope to help us reach this goal.”

Benjamin Lampe, Santa Clara University

“What attracted me to Farmerline is the ability to innovate in a constrained environment and the dedication to making a profound impact on customers. Farmerline is a tech company using their technology to improve lives, but they’ve been able to do it in a unique way such that the technology can be adopted by communities lacking technological infrastructure. Farmerline is able to leverage the power of technology without placing a burden of adopting new technologies or lifestyles on farmers. I’m looking forward to piecing together a strong understanding of Farmerline’s business relationships and how these work alongside their mission of empowering farmers to be successful entrepreneurs. I will be helping to put together case studies looking at the impact Farmerline makes and the culture of innovation that allows it to be so successful. These can be included on the Mergdata website in order to communicate to the world how Farmerline can work with businesses to the benefit of both those businesses and farmers.”

Deborah Anobil, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

“What attracted me to Farmerline was the driving force to bridge the gap between extension officers and farmers. With an academic qualification in agriculture, I perfectly understand the frustration farmers go through to access information from extensions officers. This was the reason I was excited to hear that Farmerline is using its platform to provide such information to farmers across the nation through technology. I’m looking forward to a progressive professional development and with a background in customer care and interpersonal skills as well human resource management can fully equip myself and contribute in all aspects deemed necessary to the overall mission and vision of Farmerline.”

Ebenezer Donkor, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

“I joined the team as an intern from June to August 2017 and I believed in the mission of the company, which is impacting smallholder farmers to become entrepreneurs. I also enjoyed the culture of the team by encouraging initiatives and complementing each other’s effort. I, therefore, decided to join the team. As an intern, I gained experience in how Farmerline employees performed their duties to empower smallholder farmers by way of organising workshops. I also participated and led several farmer workshops during the period and scheduled calls to farmers using the Mergdata platform.”

Alexandra Clarke, Northeastern University

“As a Jamaican, I have always heard about similarities and connections between the two cultures (Ghana and Jamaica). I thought that working at Farmerline would be the perfect combination of these two interests of mine. Additionally, I had not had much prior exposure in the field of agriculture, so I was excited to learn more about social enterprises at work and the country of Ghana, while also being introduced to a new market sector. I look for challenging, creative and insightful opportunities that will both push me, and expose me to new and compelling ideas. Ultimately I hope that my world experiences, my curiosity and drive as well as my familiarity with international business, communications and social enterprise will enable me to contribute to the growth and development of Farmerline, as well as enable me to further my own learning.”

Caleb Zotto, Santa Clara University

“Farmerline is the epitome of a start-up operating with a soulful mission. There are plenty of start-ups which are trying to create “the next best thing,” and a lot of times that “thing” is very consumerist. Another innovative product that we don’t really need, but we buy because it is cool and new. That model appeals to those who have. Farmerline is a start-up with a social mission who has created, now multiple products for those who don’t have. Farmerline appeals to me because they aren’t just another capitalist company, but a social enterprise. I am hoping to supply Farmerline with a stock of high-quality photos that they can use in the future, some marketing campaign ideas, and video footage. I just want to give Farmerline a lot of options so that they can have more options for a path of most success.

Derrick Amankwah Adofo, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
“I am excited about the opportunity to intern with such a well-regarded organization. I look forward to helping Farmerline succeed even more.”

We are excited to have our recruits join us, and look forward to working with them to grow the company.

Meet Thomas Dzandu: An extension agent playing a role in sustainable national development

Farming is on the upswing in the Adansi Fomena district and no one could be happier or more enthused perhaps than Thomas Kwaku Dzandu, an extension officer and agricultural engineer who is helping Farmerline achieve sustainable agriculture.

But the enthusiasm, passion and child-like energy that motivates Thomas to bring his resourcefulness to rural communities are tested every day. As an extension officer, the expected impact that his intervention should have has not been realised due to inadequate funding, lack of logistics and relevant training, lack of promotion opportunities and poor motivation.

Thomas’ quest to transfer proven and accepted farming practices to rural farmers in a participatory manner and to teach them post- harvest processing and storage of their yield is proving futile.

“As an engineer who works as an agriculture extension officer in Ahinsan, Agogooso and Adokwai, I find this job challenging,” Thomas says.

But even within these challenging circumstances, Thomas’ commitment and drive keep fuelling him. He doesn’t care who gets the glory or credit, he just wants the job done and done right. “Being an agriculture extension officer comes with higher levels of commitment. It is all about leaving a good impression in the minds of rural farmers and helping them achieve the most yield and income.”

In many ways, Thomas is an example of a young, passionate Ghanaian seeking to transform agriculture, holding on to the belief that agriculture extension and advisory is one of the best techniques for improving yields and incomes for farmers. This conviction, Thomas has found, aligns with Farmerline’s commitment to transforming the lives of rural farmers through innovative mobile technology and information services.

He believes that Farmerline’s effective organisation of agricultural extension services in the country will, in the long run, transform traditional agriculture into a modern one for improved living standards of the rural people.

“It is challenging covering all farmers in an operational area but Farmerline makes work much more convenient with the introduction of simple notifications on mobile phones that inform farmers on what is important, which makes the work of the agent easy,” he said.

For Thomas, ensuring the dissemination of current best agricultural practices practice, helping organise cooperatives and implement secondary farming programs is the role he has to play to aid in national development. A role he has wholeheartedly embraced.

“My motivation to work with Farmerline is on the basis to support the good efforts of young entrepreneurs to solving the day to day needs of the ordinary farmer,” he added.

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