Across Africa, farmers are struggling with using ever-more sophisticated seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, and with many depending on the rains for their livelihoods, they are trying to manage an increasingly unpredictable weather cycle. Public extension services are struggling to keep up, sometimes with one officer serving as many as 3,000 farmers. And with a growing world population, food security and nutrition has never been more important.
On 20th of Feb. 2014, Esoko lanched Ghana First Farmer Helpline, where farmers and anyone could dial 1900 at regular call rate and get answers from a group of agricultural experts.
Farmers in Ghana can dial the 1900 to ask question relating to diseases and pests, post-harvest issues, storage, use of pesticides and fertilizers and others.
At the launch it was announced that;
- Currently eight operators are on standby to cover about 10 commodities in depth and the commodities currently covered are Maize, Rice, Soya, Sorghum, Tomatoes, Cassava, Yam, Mango, Sheanuts, Cowpea among others.
- The call centre is available in twelve local languages (Dagbani, Mampruli, Twi, Kusaal, Frafra, Sissali, Dagaari, Wali, Ewe, Ga, Fante and Hausa), and it is open from 8am to 5pm every day,”
- currently available on Vodafone, MTN, and Airtel at a regular call rate. Tigo and Glo will be added later this year.
Esoko’s Farmer Helpline Manager, Mary Naah said
“It is really exciting to find during that pilot that some farmers called in to find out whether it will it rain in Tumu on Saturday, and some even asked ‘When do I plant?’
She said the pilot also brought up questions like “Where can I find pesticides?” “What do I do if the rains haven’t fallen…?” and many more.
Mark Davies, Esoko CEO says;
“There’s a lot of hype out there about how smartphones and SMS services can help farmers but really you’ve got to go back to basics and offer them answers in their own language from dedicated professionals they can trust, “
Esoko is doing this in partnership with CABI, CSIR, IFDC, MOFA and others to provide the very latest agricultural information and best practices