By Cecil Mensah
Esoko Ghana, one of the leading companies with the initiative in delivering market information to farmers in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has set up the first Farmer Helpline in the country to assist farmers maximize profit.
The Farmer Helpline is a call centre, where farmers are expected to call mobile lines of MTN, Vodafone and Airtel for a group of agricultural experts to answer questions pose by farmers in relation to issues bothering on boosting their production.
The call centre which operates in twelve local languages namely Twi, Kusaal, Frafra, Sisala, Dagari, Dagbani Mamprusi,Wali, Ewe,Ga Fante and Hausa is open from eight Am in the morning to five Pm in the evening.
Speaking at the launch in Accra, Miss Mary Narh, the Helpline Manager of Esoko said the call centre provides information on disease and pest control, post-harvest loses, storage, use of pesticides and fertilizers.
She said, the centre has eight operators who cover ten commodities namely Maize, Rice, Soya, Sorghum, Tomatoes, Cassava, Yam, Mango, Sheanuts, and Cowpea in depth with the aim of growing additional twenty-five commodities by the end of the year.
According to her, across Africa farmers are struggling with the use of the ever sophisticated problems of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers.
She said research has shown that many farmers depend on the rains for their livelihoods hence the low yields recorded annually.
She said the goal of Esoko is to try to manage the increasing unpredictable weather cycle by offering information to boost yield.
She said the call centre will go a long way to solve the growing problems of the population growth, food security and nutrition in the country.
On his part Mr Mark Davies, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Esoko said there is a lot of hype about how smart phones and SMS can be use to help framers boost production.
The Mission Director of USAID, Mr Jim Beaver commended the company’s innovations with a promise to increase its assistance to the company to enable it assist the farmers to boost production.
He said in a country with lot of illiterates the call centre will go a long way to help farmers who need help.