How the future of food is growing in Ghana
Homegrown tech companies are looking to work with small farmers to find innovative ways of nurturing a boom in the agricultural economy.
The solutions they’re proposing run from simple steps like upping the social media game for coops, to full-service data management that would help farmers comply with the demands of investors and export markets.
But tech companies tend to base themselves in the city, while the farmers they’re aiming to work with are scattered across some of the most remote parts of the country.
That makes it challenging to align digital solutions with needs on the ground. To bridge that gap, the Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) supports agritech companies by bringing them to the farms so they can meet face to face with the people they’d like to work with.
The latest trip brought 13 agritech and IT companies from Accra to the northern region of Kumasi.
‘Technology is as good as what’s happening on the ground,’ said Mawuli K. Addo of Grow For Me, an input and commodity financing, aggregation and trading platform.
‘In the chain, from product to end user, each process is different. So if you are sitting at the end, and you are trying to solve a problem, you might miss something in the chain -- from production to sourcing the commodities. Then there’s everything that goes into supply chain dynamics, all the way to marketing and labelling and customer relations.’
Grow For Me has created a special module for farm management, with an investor who’s keen for using the system in greenhouses. That’s led to discussions with the Akumadan sustainable ‘Greenhouse Village’, who were visited during the agri-tech fieldtrip in April. Other talks are underway on how Bodukwan Multi fruit company could leverage Grow For Me's Micro Aggregator platform.
Using data to show how sustainable practices work
Farm groups increasingly need to harness their data not only to manage their own work, but to document how they comply with sustainability standards overseas.
‘The people that we engaged with on the field trip are the likes of those we are looking to engage. We have already contacted three of them,’ said George Saka, general manager at Think Data Services.
‘Typically farm groups should do a survey to see where their farmers are working, but most often they don’t have the resources to do that,’ he said. ‘Those that do have, they don’t manage their data very well. Even though farmers are hardworking, they don’t have the data to speak about, to allow them to go for funding.’
After the trip, he’s scheduled a demo of Think Data’s offering with the Pineapple Farmer Association. He’s also in discussions with juice maker Bodukwan Multi-Fruit Processing Company, and the Peace and Love Vegetable Growers Association.
His solution, called FarmForce, helps growers export to Europe by compiling the data that’s required to meet EU sustainability standards.
The same data can also help local fintech companies decide how best to work farm associations, said Betty Blavo, chief operating officer of Motito.
Her fintech company offers ‘buy now, pay later’ services. They started with consumer financing but now work with small businesses and associations, like the farm groups around Kumasi. For a group of garment makers, for example, they supplied over 200 sewing machines on terms that work for smaller operators.
But Motito needs data to decide what kind of financing to offer farm groups, Blavo said.
‘We know that there’s a need, and it’s very difficult for them to secure any type of financing from traditional finance institutions,’ she said. ‘We facilitate assets, rather than actual cash. We provide them with a more efficient or more sustainable way of growing their crops.’
‘They have to make a deposit of 30% of the value of the items, and then they go through a credit scoring process. Once they get approved, they can spread the rest over five months,’ she explained.
She saw opportunity to work with the Ginger Grower Association, which took a strong interest in her service.
The field trip to Kumasi was organized in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy in Accra, tropical seed provider EastWestSeed and horticultural company Holland Green Tech. The trip also included Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Council, and the support of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Ghana.
The field trip went to fruit and vegetable farmers, agro-associations, agro-processors and Kwadaso Agricultural College with the aim of bringing more tech solutions and services to the agribusiness sector.
About the project
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and drive the internationalization of tech start-ups and export of IT & BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.