Last year, the agricultural sector in Ghana contributed almost 20% of the GDP, continuing a trend that has seen agriculture as the biggest contributor to the Ghanaian economy before being recently taken over by the services and industrial sectors. The agricultural sector also accounted for over 28.46% of the total workforce in 2020. The majority of the farmers in Ghana are smallholder farmers who farm on their land with their families.
The advent of COVID-19 coupled with rising global inflation rates has left these farmers without the necessary and adequate support to grow. Although the Ghanaian government has taken some measures to provide this support, the private sector has a lot to offer.
Farmerline, a Ghanaian agritech startup, has been providing support to farmers in Ghana since it was founded in 2013 by Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Addai. Farmerline provides smallholder farmers with access to high-quality fertiliser and seeds, free education on climate-smart farming practices, and connections to international markets. The company has announced that it has raised a US$ 1.5 million extension from social impact investor Oikocredit to its previous $12.9 million pre-Series A announced in April.
On a call with TechCabal, Emmanuel Addai, co-founder and COO of Farmerline, said that the company plans to expand into francophone countries, starting with Côte d’Ivoire by the first quarter of next year. He added that with the pre-Series A, Farmerline would strengthen its supply chain with the deployment of infrastructure and artificial intelligence. “We believe that data is going to play a major role in our development as a company and also for the agribusiness space. We want to use data to predict where to place relevance in infrastructure, such as warehousing, delivery, route schedules, etc.”
It is estimated that an additional 7 to 10 million people in the West African region face food insecurity, following the impact of the war in Ukraine. Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank vice president for Western and Central Africa, has described the situation as unfortunate. “Today, with soaring inflation, unfortunately, many people in Africa are struggling to have access to basics such as food products.”
Farmerline has recently financed around US$ 18 million worth of inputs and crops through franchise shop alliances with agribusinesses and input dealers. The company also recently launched their Support a Farmer initiative, a public crowdfunding campaign to raise GH1 million (US$ 100,000) to provide 250,000 bags of discounted fertiliser to 25,000 farmers across Ghana. Addai added that Farmerline contributed 20% of the fund.
According to Addai, Farmerline prides itself on being a social benefit company. He said that the company gives out free education to farmers on smart climate farming. “At the end of the day, we want to make the farmer the winner.” The company started by educating farmers and, in 2020, launched a marketplace for farmers across Africa. Addai said that Farmerline has reached more than 1.5 million farmers in over 35 countries across Africa. The company has also employed over 200 people in Ghana.
In a statement, Alloysius Attah, co-founder and CEO of Farmerline, said: “We remain committed to standing by farmers and agribusinesses across Africa during this crucial time. With the support of Oikocredit alongside our first-round funders, our distribution, logistics and financing services will continue not only in Ghana but also in the Ivory Coast where we’ve recently begun the process of expanding our team. We need to work closely with all partners and stakeholders in the agricultural sector through this critical period to create sustainable food system solutions that benefit African farmers.”