Fasiba, Esoko ‘s latest innovative technological solution, is designed to help smallholder farmers overcome the challenge of lack of access to affordable and quality inputs to increase productivity. The solution aims at creating a two-sided market for the supply and purchase of inputs, information services on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and digital financial services. This solution creates strategic partnerships with agro input dealers, financial institutions and Mobile Network Operators to create a virtual marketplace where farmers can access farm inputs and finance.
Before its implementation, a baseline study was conducted in three regions of Ghana with the sole purpose of collecting baseline data on smallholder farmers, against which impact, outcomes and outputs can be measured. This will then assist implementing partners to better understand broader issues affecting sustainability of agricultural inputs delivery in the target regions. A total of 314 farmers cultivating any of these three crops namely Maize, Rice, and Soybean were evaluated.
A multi-stage cluster sampling technique was employed to enable the team capture relevant information from farmers and actors working within the selected value chains. Generally, Volta, Northern and Brong Ahafo regions are the top cropped land in Ghana. Thus, if mobile technology can be leveraged to improve input delivery to small holder farmers in these regions, productivity may improve.
Use of Mobile Technology
Mobile Phone Accessibility
89.5% of farmers own personal mobile phone,
82.5% had normal phones while 8.0 % possess smartphones.
Use of Short Message Service
About 52.9 % of the farmers interviewed could read. 37.6% discard messages due to illiteracy.
Use of Interactive Voice Response
58.6% of the farmers evaluated received at least one voice messages on their phones. Of the number of farmers receiving voice messages, 38.9% listen to those messages. Generally, Farmers tend to discard voice messages when it isnt in their local languages.
Mobile Money Saving
A total of 139 farmers, representing 44.3% (< 50%) of the respondents reported they had mobile money wallet. 17.5% had saved some amount of money in their mobile money wallets. MTN mobile money wallet is the predominant mobile wallet farmers have signed up for.
Agric Inputs, Subsidies and harvest
Out of the sample, 84.4% are maize farmers. Soya is one of the least farmed crop in all three regions. Other major side crops farmers cultivate are cassava, yam, plantain, cow pea, millet, tomatoes and okra.
Access to financial services
Access to financial services isn’t widespread. Only 24.5% have access to loans from banks for agric purposes. High interest rates, lack of trust are the few reasons farmers are unable to access loans.
Usage of agro-input
Usage of agro-input is low in some areas. This is mainly due to lack of finance and often times a fertile soil. Farmers default to using organic fertilizer on their farms. Others in waterlog areas decline in using fertilizer as most nutrients are washed away. Certified seeds offered to farmers by MoFA (Ministry of Food and Agriculture) extension agents are later compensated after harvest. This results in farmers spending less in acquiring seeds. Other farmers store seeds from previous harvests and use them in the next planting season.
Use of key certified seeds of improved variety in the last agricultural season
Few farmers used certified seeds of improved variety in their farms to boost productivity and income. Out of the 84% of total sampled farmers who cultivate maize, only 30.3% used improved seeds on their farms. 7.3% rice farmers used improved seeds, an even much lesser percentage used certified soya seeds. Other seeds farmers indicated they had planted last season include cocoa, yam and cassava.
Harvested output per unit area
Maize and Rice yields in the last agricultural season have been very low. Maize yield stood at 1800kg/ha instead of 4600kg/ha, Rice at 400kg/ha instead of 4600kg/ha. On the average, soya yields 2200kg/ha.
Average income spent on agric input
Farmers spend less in acquiring inputs for their farms. This is due to high cost of key inputs like fertilizer and improved seeds. In the last agricultural season, a farmer spent an average of GHC 900 ($223) worth of agric inputs on their farms, per season.