Mobile app development is on the rise at KNUST. A group of over 210 students have been sharing ideas at an iHub-like atmosphere called mFriday at the new sparkling Vodafone Café on campus.

On Wednesday, December 7, 2011, two mFriday members won the third spot in West Africa category in the Apps 4 Africa competition with Farmerline, an agriculture-related mobile based app. The geniuses behind Farmerline are Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai.

The Climate Challenge centers around several strategic themes that coincide with policy decisions that will be debated and decided upon by world leaders at the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) conference in Durban, South Africa. This creates an opportunity for decision makers who will be eager to discover, recommend, and otherwise support the applications and projects developed by competition participant. The goal is to ensure that African innovators have the opportunity to contribute their ideas to the discussion that their own and other leaders will partake in at COP17.

More importantly, the Apps4Africa contest is being organized to reward the African innovators (young and old) who see their daily challenges as an opportunity to create.

The announcement on the Apps 4 Africa website is as follows: http://www.apps4africa.org/blog/2011/12/07/west-africa-winners-announced-at-cop17/

3rd prize $3,000 – Farmerline by Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai (Ghana)

Farmerline is a mobile and web-based system that furnishes farmers and investors with relevant agricultural information to improve productivity and increase income. Lack of information about weather patterns and about which crops grow best in a changing climate hurts rural farmers’ yields. Cell phone use is growing rapidly throughout Ghana, including in rural areas. This mobile tool can help farmers in Ghana to get information about agricultural best practices down to the farm level, including choosing crops best suited for their specific location, and how to prepare for changes in weather patterns (including dry spells, changes in seasonal onset, and extreme events).

The duo chose to develop Farmerline after their own frustrations from obtaining relevant information to startup their farming businesses. With perseverance, they signed up for a mobile application development training dubbed Mobile Web Ghana (World Wide Web Foundation‘s Mobile Entrepreneurship in Ghana program). After brainstorming on the several projects, and realizing that they all had ambitions of going into farming in future, they settled on the project Farmerline – a name ‘imposed’ by one of the trainees (Harold).

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Problem identified:

Farmers in the rural communities in Ghana struggle to get information about agricultural best practices due to inadequate extension officers, poor transport and communication channels. According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), the current officer to farmer ratio in Ghana stands at 1:1800, a situation which needs urgent attention. In addition, the agro dealers who should interact with the farmers are themselves unaware of appropriate input, and the latest production and post-harvest techniques.

Solution prescribed:

Farmerline – an innovative mobile and web-based system that furnishes the stakeholders (farmers and investors) with relevant agricultural information to improve productivity and increase income.

The platform works as follows:

  • Farmer helpline: farmers use their mobile phone to call a helpline staffed with an interactive voice response system (IVR) which answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) whiles agricultural experts give immediate advice.
  • Mobile information platform: users receive SMS alerts about best farm management practices tailored to their location and the crops that they grow.
  • Other applications: via mobile phones, farmers can access weather patterns, prevailing market prices, etc.

Following the announcement on Apps 4 Africa website, Alloysius and Emmanuel had this to say:

Alloysius:  Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end”.

Emmanuel:  Who said your idea is not up to scratch. Put it forth, allow people to trim it for you, and it shall be a dream come true. This is the story of Farmerline. I am proud that Alloysius and I stood our grounds in choosing this topic. With the support mFriday-KNUST crew and the opportunity at Mobile Web Ghana second training, this project has seen the light of day.

 It is indeed a great day for mFriday and KNUST to celebrate this breakthrough.

Please join us to celebrate the beginning of Farmerline!

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