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ICT and Big Data
BCtA Providing Mobile Communication Services to African Farmers

Ghana-based technology provider Farmerline has announced plans to join the Business Call to Action (BCtA) and help empower 500,000 small-scale farmers in West Africa to advance their livelihoods by accessing information that helps them to improve their harvests. The company also plans to provide a specialized mobile communication and data-collection platform to 5,000 development organizations and agribusinesses by 2019.

Headquartered in Ghana, Farmerline is a technology and content company that builds supply-chain and value-chain solutions targeting smallholder farmers and their stakeholders. By utilizing mobile phones, the Farmerline technology provides a valuable link for farmers to better access markets, financing, weather forecasts and agricultural services. Farmerline’s mobile messaging platform allows governments, development partners and businesses to provide farmers with crop management updates faster and at low cost through outgoing messages (Voice/SMS) and mobile surveys to ensure that they receive the right knowledge for increasing yields.

The company is working to bridge the information gap that many farmers face in accessing expert agricultural information and real-time data support. Farmerline provides outbound messaging and seasonal subscription services that offer smallholder farmers individualized messaging via their mobile phones as well as a dedicated support line to answer specific questions.

To assist small farmers in improving their yields and enhancing productivity, Farmerline’s voice messaging and mobile technology inform farmers of best practices in areas such as product storage, reducing pest infestations and bringing products to market. The company aspires to expand its services across Africa. With 75 percent of farmers now owning mobile phones, the company aims to reach an estimated 2 million farmers by 2024.

The company has recently announced plans to target low-income illiterate communities — especially small-scale farmers — with information about the dangers associated with contracting the Ebola virus. Farmerline also is in the midst of creating new ICT tools that can support health workers in Africa.

Last year, BCtA announced a new set of commitments to provide income-earning opportunities and expand access to services such as mobile technology and micro-insurance to disadvantaged populations in Africa and Asia. This included expanding access to financial services in Zambia, providing affordable microinsurance in Malaysia and helping honey farmers in Kenya.

An increasing number of major brands are looking to invest in Africa. In August, the Coca-Cola Company and its African bottling partners announced a new investment of $5 billion during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. To be made over the next six years, this increases the company’s total announced investment in Africa to $17 billion from 2010 to 2020.

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