First hand experiences from the farmers

25 October 2019

Most of the world’s cocoa is produced by smallholder farmers, who all too often live in severe poverty. The struggle to make a decent living is getting tougher as farmers grapple with aging trees, declining soil fertility and a whole host of new challenges arising from unpredictable weather conditions to increased outbreaks of pests and diseases.

Very few farmers have access to the information and personal coaching needed to address these challenges effectively—but FarmGrow aims to change that. With this new digital application, farmers now produce a long-term business plan together with their personal coach. With data insights supported by satellite technology, the tool provides farmers with tailored business plans and advises on responsible methods to increase productivity on existing land. Although it is still early days, farmers who have been using the new tool are already responding enthusiastically.

Theresa Agyemang Badu says she would definitely recommend FarmGrow to her fellow cocoa farmers. When her husband passed away, she suddenly found herself in charge of their five acre-farm in Osei-Kusi Comunity, Kasapin district—and of being the primary earner for a family of 13. She decided to work with FarmGrow because she thought that having an individualized plan and coaching would help her boost her farm’s productivity and the family’s income.

Since starting in July 2018, Badu has already increased the average number of pods on her farm. She has done intensive pruning and thinning of her trees, as her plan recommended. She expects her post-harvest losses to be reduced and looks forward to the benefits of digital record-keeping. Knowing that coaches will report back to her regularly on her progress and make further recommendations is also a boon.

Farmer on farm

Smallholder farmer stands on his cocoa farm

“I was immediately attracted by the tool’s structured support for long term investment planning”

Fellow cocoa farmer, Nana Kwame Korang, is similarly optimistic about his future with FarmGrow. Though Korang grew up in a farming family, he only decided to go into full time farming two year ago after having worked in the government sector for some time. Immediately attracted by the tool’s structured support for long term investment planning, Korang started implementing FarmGrow’s recommendations on his 20-acre farm. Already, he reports that his cocoa trees are starting to look healthier and are bearing more of flowers and pods.

Even farmers with many years of experience behind them are finding that they can still learn a lot from FarmGrow coaches and the system. Eric Berko has been a farmer for 20 years and was taught about the land by his uncle. After using FarmGrow, Berko says he has much better understanding of how to make smart savings—by spending money on pesticides more targeted, for example—and plan investments in better farm management long term. Berko goes as far to say that FarmGrow sparked a big moment of realization for him: farming may be a way of life, but you need to think of it as running a business.

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