Cutting out the exploitative middleman was the goal for this new agritech startup that is revolutionizing farming for Ghana’s smallholders.
Based in Accra, AgroCenta was set up specifically for the benefit of Ghana’s smallholder farmers. Knowing the hardships the farmers faced, the founders of AgroCenta have created four distinct services as part of their agritech startup. AgroTrade, TruckR, AgroInfo and AgroPay work together to bring often unconnected farms and farm families in direct contact with the marketplace from which they sell. Most of Ghana’s smallholdings produce staple food crops, making it even more of a travesty when crops do not make it to market in time to be sold before they rot. AgroCenta’s services are centered around mobile phone access. Furthermore, AgroCenta agents work closely with farmers to help them navigate the platform and access the best price for their crops.
AgroTrade is the online sales platform to which farmers upload their crop information. After buyers express their interest, farmers are able to book transport via AgroCenta’s TruckR service. TruckR is available on demand and works across the entire country. Additionally, AgroInfo tracks market prices and sends farmers updates via text message and voice mail. Of utmost importance is the ability of the service to provide that information in the farmer’s preferred language. Lastly, AgroPay provides credit, banking and savings facilities all accessed via mobile phone. For the many farmers who do not use traditional banks, this aspect of the platform is particularly important in enabling them to receive fair market value for their goods.
Around the world, mobile phones are helping to create substantial change in the ways in which remote communities access markets. In India, Delhi residents use a service that provides produce directly from farms to consumers within 14 hours using WhatsApp to send orders and delivery instructions. In South Africa, traditional fishers use an app to log catches, improve government data and build relationships with markets. What would help strengthen these types of local economies by better connecting producers with local consumers?