Farmerline is a service that delivers information to farmers through voice or text messages to their mobile phone. It addresses the problem of accessing timely and area-specific information missed by many Ghanaian smallholder farmers. Lack of access to information affects their yield, income and autonomy, making it difficult to orient decisions according to larger trends such as market demand, or to get the voices of farmers heard. With 30% of the world’s food supply produced by smallholder farmers, low yields are everybody’s problem.
Mobile phones used throughout Ghana offer an ideal information pathway. Users choose a service package that delivers information several times a week on one of several specific topics, including supplier locations and price, best agricultural practices, or buyer demands. Farmerline gets this information from partners at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Kwameh Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, sending messages in local languages. Farmerline is the only Ghanaian company offering bulk voice-messaging, a medium accessible to illiterate farmers. Farmerline won first place in the Mobile Web Ghana Competition 2011. Farmerline partnered recently with the Canadian NGO Engineers Without Borders to conduct field research involving user feedback to assess the commercial marketability of the service. Incoming results confirm the need for an innovative service like Farmerline.