Ghanaian agritech company Farmerline has sent WHO COVID-19 information to over 18,000 smallholder farmers across 32 districts in Ghana in the wake of the pandemic.
The WHO COVID-19 messages which were originally available in the English language on the internet have been translated into Twi, Ga, Fante, Hausa, Dagbani, Nzema and Gonja. The company’s software, Mergdata, which is normally used to provide weather, market and agronomic updates to farmers is doubling as a platform for sharing these voice messages to smallholder farmers across Ghana.
CEO of the company, Alloysius Attah shared how the company responded to the pandemic during
an interview on CNN Africa’s COVID Heroes and Newsmakers programme; “Before Ghana instituted the lockdown, we had begun recruiting and working with volunteers to record WHO COVID-19 voice messages in local languages. These messages are sent directly to smallholder farmers in rural communities through their mobile phones in order to bridge the knowledge and communication gap”, Alloysius Attah said.
To date, Farmerline has sent almost 67,205 minutes of free factual information explaining what
the coronavirus is, how it spreads, the symptoms to look out for and who is most at risk. They also detail how farmers can protect themselves from it and what to do if farmers or members of their family fall sick.
Speaking to what inspired the company to take these actions on the global media platform,
Alloysius Attah explained that, “when people get information in the language they can relate to,
they are able to assimilate it and adopt new practices faster. This has been our experience over the years working directly with farmers. And this is what inspired us to respond. We’re not a health organisation, but we are basically leveraging existing content that you and I have access to. We’re making sure no farmer is left behind and all farmers get what they need to be ready for the season.”
Though their response started as an internal effort to support farmers in their supply chain, it
quickly got the attention of other players in the food value chain like like global chocolate manufacturer, Hershey, who joined the effort to extend the messages to more farmers.
Farmerline’s mergdata platform was originally designed to serve farmers with information and
bridge any language barrier that may exist.
Over the past years, the company has leveraged this technology to digitize farms and provide education, finance and market access to over half a million farmers across 16 countries. The software was also recently recognised by TIME as one of 2019’s Best Inventions.