A new app is helping farmers in Ghana increase their yield and get buyers for their maize, sorghum, cassava and other produce. mFarms, say those who introduced it, is not only about technolgy, but about giving farmers more say. David Pollard reports.
Planting maize in the fields of Ghana. A practice almost as old as time. But getting the maize from here .... .... to buyers here at Ghana's markets is not always straightforward. Get your thumbs ready then for mFarms - a new app designed to make the lives of farmers that bit easier. Bawa Yamusah - who grows vegetables and grains on his smallholding - says it already is. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FARMER, BAWA YAMUSAH SAYING: "It's 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." mFarms puts farmers in touch with a wide network of buyers interested in purchasing their maize, sorghum, cassava and other produce. In fact, connecting buyers and sellers right across the sector. It was introduced to Ghana by Image-Ad, a local software development organisation supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa or AGRA. Image-Ad CEO Kwame Bentil says new technology is vital. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO IMAGE-AD, KWAME BENTIL, SAYING: "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." AGRA was created by the Rockerfeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006, to help farmers get better quality seeds, boost their access to markets and finance, and lobby for policy change. In a word, empowerment, according to AGRA's Ghana head, Kwasi Ampofo. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KWASI AMPOFO, AGRA, COUNTRY HEAD, GHANA SAYING: "What AGRA is doing is to enable them through our farmer based organisation support centre for Africa to put farmers together through farmer organisations and support them, give them the power to negotiate for credit to buy their inputs, and give them the power to negotiate." Farmers using mFarms on their phones receive information about good agricultural practice, where to locate inputs such as seeds and fertiliser, and where to get support. And not only in Ghana. The mFarms platform is active from Kenya in the east to Nigeria in the west of Africa - in fact, a total of 17 countries throughout the continent.