21 February 2014

Ghana: New Esoko Helpline to Boost Farmers

Accra — ESOKO Ghana, an agricultural commodity index that tracks the prices of selected agricultural products across Ghana, has introduced a Farmer Helpline that enables farmers to access answers from a group of agricultural experts available on call.

Farmers can dial 1900 at regular call rates to access the service said to be the first of its kind in the country.

It is available to Vodafone, MTN, and Airtel while Tigo and Glo will be added later this year.

Languages available are Dagbani, Mampruli, Twi, Kusaal, Frafra, Sissali, Dagaari, Wali, Ewe, Ga, Fante and Hausa.

Maize, rice, soya, sorghum, tomato, cassava, yam, mango, sheanuts and cowpea farmers are among producers poised to benefit from the helpline.

Esoko is partnering with Crop Science and Research Institute (CSIR), Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other stakeholders to provide the latest agricultural information and best practices to these farmers.

According to officials, currently, eight operators are on standby to cover about ten commodities in depth, but there are plans to cover up to 25 commodities by the close of the year.

Esoko's Farmer Helpline Manager, Mary Naah said, “It is really exciting to find during that pilot that some farmers called in to find out whether it will it rain in Tumu on Saturday, and some even asked when they can plant, where they can find pesticides and what do if rains have not fallen.

Esoko Chief Executive Officer, Daves Esoko, said the Farmer Helpline was an essential complement to any type of SMS programme being offered by Esoko and other service providers.

“There is a lot of hype out there about how smartphones and SMS services can help farmers but really you've got to go back to basics and offer them answers in their own language from dedicated professionals they can trust,” he added.

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