By Paul Ndiho
A mobile phone app is helping Ghanaian farmers increase crop yields and connect with industry players through a seamless communications medium that is easily accessible and cost-effective.
Farmers in northwestern Ghana are cultivating their crops in a more cost-effective way, thanks to a new mobile app called mfarms. Farmers use the internet-based platform to access a wide range of information which connects them with a network of potential buyers and sellers.
Bawa Yamusah grows vegetables and grains on his own small holding. He says m-Farms has helped him increase his family’s income.
“it’s has improved the yields and alternatively our income level has risen and we get a lot of food for our homes and the family then we get extra income from what we are going to dispose off selling of food surplus so we used that disposable foods to pay our children’s school fees and take care of medical and needs of the families.”
m-Farms was introduced to Ghana by image-ad, a local software development organization supported by the alliance for a green revolution in Africa.
“Now they are able to better plan and better know what they need and the cost involved, and also because we’re connected with other stakeholders we are able to give them best technology in terms of seeds, fertilizer and this really helps them to be able to cultivate within the small area and get better yield. And their production systems also change because we have been able to provide them new production systems through the information we get from m-Farms.”
Farmers using m-Farms the app receive information about good agricultural practices and they can view maps showing the location of warehouses in the area that have space available for storing crops ready for market.
“We are looking forward to a day where we will not even have extension officers going to the field to take data. Rather farmers themselves will be sending us those data that is where we’re looking at. Because if the farmers are equipped to be able to send this data themselves i think it will be even more valid than what our officers (extension officers) are doing because they know the timing of all this activities. So i can say that m-Farms is going to play a major role in our operations.”
M-Farms bring farmers and buyers together, specifically those interested in purchasing their maize, sorghum, cassava and other produce.
Created by the Rockefeller foundation and the bill and Melinda Gates foundation in 2006, AGRA helps farmers to acquire better quality seeds, which boosts their access to markets and finance, as well as lobby for policy change.
“What AGRA is doing is to enable them through our farmer-based organization support center for Africa to put farmers together through farmer organizations and support them, give them the power to negotiate for credit to buy their inputs, and give them the power to negotiate for the sale of their produce.”
The m-Farms platform is active in 17 African countries including: Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Rwanda and now Ghana.