The State Of AgricTech Innovations In Ghana

Agriculture plays a very significant role in our economy and is considered the backbone of our economic system. Its overwhelming importance to human survival and economic development cannot be undervalued. It is our source of food, raw materials, provides employment, and contributes highly to the country’s revenue.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Ghana, about 52 % of the labor force is engaged in agriculture. Agriculture contributes to 54% of Ghana’s GDP, and accounts for over 40% of export earnings, while at the same time providing over 90% of the food needs of the country. Despite the massive contributions to food security, the agricultural sector has several challenges which hinder stakeholders from achieving desired outcomes. The sector is faced with price fluctuation, pests, and diseases infestation, low financial power, low productivity, low-quality soil nutrients, rudimentary equipment usage, poor infrastructure among others.

The advent of technology is playing a major role in the agricultural value chain helping make agriculture easier for farmers and agribusiness a more profitable and less risky venture. Over the years, Ghanaian startups have leveraged technology to develop innovations that reduce losses, increase efficiencies, improve crop yields, and help increase the income of farmers most especially smallholder farmers who form a major part of the Ghanaian agricultural sector.

At the production phase of the Agricultural value chain, some startups are innovating to solve challenges smallholder farmers face as this is a critical phase of the value chain and any challenge faced here directly affects the whole value chain.

Sesi Technologies through its Farmsense product provides farmers with important soil insights to enable them to make data-driven decisions that increase yields and boost productivity. This eliminates the guesswork in farming and reduces the cost of farming and increases the profits by knowing the right inputs to purchase for farms.

Sesi Technologies

Trotro Tractor uses its digital platform to connect farmers and tractor operators helping farmers who need plowing services but are unable to reach out to mechanization centers/Tractor services or operators.

Farmerline provides information services that send SMS and voice messages on weather reports, new farming techniques, agrochemical applications. Through its mobile service, Farmerline is also able to connect farmers with input dealers to purchase affordable inputs for their farms.

The harvest and post-harvest phases of the value chain come with their challenges. As a result of these challenges, farmers do not profit much from their work input throughout the season.

AgroCenta, founded by two ex-Esoko employees solves two critical problems farmers face namely; access to the market and access to finance. Its aggregator and financial inclusion platforms, Cropchain and LendIt platform solve these problems by providing a user-friendly integrated agricultural supply chain management platform that allows organizations to manage everything in the agricultural supply chain from out-grower schemes, logistics, traceability to digital trading, quality assurance, and data analytics while its financial inclusion platform enables farmers to access digital services such mobile money payments for commodities sold, micro-lending/input financing, crop insurance, and pension scheme for the informal sector. Grainmate moisture meter by Sesi Technologies enables farmers, aggregators, feed producers, and commodity traders to reduce losses making it easy for them to measure the moisture content in their grains.

Sesi Technology Grain Meter

In recent years, crowdfunding platforms have been developed to help smallholder farmers mainly into subsistence farming venture into commercial farming. This gives the average Ghanaian the opportunity to be part of the entire agricultural value chain. Kwidex, Complete Farmer, and Grow For Me which recently secured equity-free funding from Google are the few startups exploring this innovation.

The animal production and aquaculture industries have seen a few agric tech startups venturing into these areas. CowTribe contributes to the transformation of animal health service delivery at the last mile of Africa through technology to help coordinate deliveries of veterinary vaccines and other animal health products to rural and underserved communities in Ghana. Profish, established in 2018 to promote food security by leveraging technology to transform the fisheries industry by working with rural fisherfolk developed a digital supply chain platform called Lojaanor to enable fish farmers to sell their fish harvest directly to customers.

Cowtribe. Image Credit: Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

With the ongoing digitization of Ghanaian agriculture by startups in the ecosystem which has attracted foreign investments, agriculture in Ghana is definitely on track for a technological revolution. There will be a continuous improvement in production efficiency and return on investments for most stakeholders which will attract more individuals into the sector most especially the youth and also increase food production to feed the increasing population.

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