Washington, D.C. and Accra, Ghana, Feb 19, 2015 – Grameen Foundation, Farm Radio International and Digital Green today launched a new initiative to increase food security for smallholder farmers in five regions in Ghana. Using extension agents, mobile apps, radio, video, text messaging and voice messages, the initiative will provide farmers with the information and support needed to adopt technology that will increase their productivity and improve nutrition in their communities. It is part of the New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund, a component of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
Though more than half of the labor force in Ghana earns income from agriculture, the World Food Program classifies Ghana as a food-deficit country and 51 percent of children under five suffer from malnutrition. Research has also found that smallholder farmers chronically under-invest in their farms, which exacerbates their low productivity, increases their vulnerability to risks, and contributes to food insecurity.
Launched in 2012 at the G-8 Summit, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a partnership that contributes to the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). It aims to address constraints that prevent smallholder farmers, especially women, from increasing their output. The New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund focuses on contributing to this goal by supporting financially sustainable ICT-enabled extension services to help reach more farmers so they adopt new techniques that can increase their productivity.
“Smallholder farmers often do not earn the full value from their land because they have limited access to reliable and understandable information on good farming practices and where they can get the best prices for their crops. Our work has shown that information technology can provide an important channel for reaching farmers, especially those in remote areas, with actionable information. We are pleased to work with Digital Green, Farm Radio International and USAID to support and reinforce the adoption of proven practices in Ghana as part of a larger effort to defeat rural poverty across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation.
In Ghana, the CAADP has set a goal of increasing yields of cassava, maize, rice, soybean, and yam by 50 percent and cowpea by 25 percent by 2015. Through this collaboration, Grameen Foundation, Farm
Radio International and Digital Green will work with local institutions to develop content on agricultural best practices and other relevant topics for distribution to 200,000 farming households in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern and Volta regions.
“Farm Radio International is pleased to be teaming with Grameen Foundation and Digital Green on this exciting new initiative in Ghana. We look forward to working with partner radio stations in Ghana to produce interactive radio programs that help small-scale farmers learn about, evaluate, and put into practice new technologies that improve the results of their farming efforts,” said Kevin Perkins, executive director of Farm Radio International.
“The larger goal of our organization remains to ensure that the Digital Green approach is owned by the communities that will need to sustain the program over the longer term. To achieve this, we have the privilege of working with partners, through whom we continue to empower communities to drive social change to live with dignity. We also continuously strive to rigorously capture data and feedback to refine our approach,” said Rikin Gandhi, CEO of Digital Green.
The New Alliance ICT Extension Challenge Fund is funded by several donors, including the U.S. Government's Feed the Future initiative through USAID and UK Aid from the UK government.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit organization that helps the world’s poorest people achieve their full potential by providing access to essential financial services and information on health and agriculture that can transform their lives. Founded in 1997, it delivers solutions that respond to the needs of the poor, as well as tools that help poverty-focused organizations become more effective. It focuses on initiatives that can achieve widespread impact and uses an open-source approach that makes it easy for other organizations to adopt them broadly. Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and the Grameen family of companies, is an inaugural member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. Grameen Foundation is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in the U.S., Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter @GrameenFdn.
About Farm Radio International
Farm Radio International is a Canadian charity that harnesses the power of radio to meet the needs of small-scale farmers. We work with more than 570 radio partners located in 38 African countries to fight poverty and food insecurity. FRI resources and training help African broadcasters produce and deliver practical, relevant, and timely information to tens of millions of farmers. We also work with a range of partners to implement radio projects that respond to community needs. In 2012, FRI received the Innovation Challenge Award from the Rockefeller Foundation in recognition of our innovative use of radio to change lives.
About Digital Green
Digital Green uses an innovative digital platform for community engagement to improve livelihoods of rural communities across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization partners with local public, private and civil society organizations to share knowledge on improved agricultural practices, livelihoods, health, and nutrition, using locally produced videos and human mediated dissemination. In a controlled evaluation, the Digital Green approach was found to be 10 times more cost-effective and uptake of new practices seven times higher compared to traditional extension services. Till date, Digital Green has reached more than 600,000 rural community members across over 7,000 villages in nine states in India and parts of Ethiopia and Ghana. The organization has helped facilitate the production and dissemination of more than 3500 localized videos in 20 languages, all of which are available for viewing on its online video repository (//www.digitalgreen.org/discover/).
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID leads implementation of the Feed the Future initiative, a whole-of-government effort drawing on the resources and expertise of 11 federal agencies. Feed the Future is the principal vehicle through which the United States contributes to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
Liselle Yorke, Grameen Foundation
+202-628-3560, ext 128, lyorke [at] grameenfoundation.org
Kevin Perkins, Farm Radio International
+1-613-761-3658, kperkins [at] farmradio.org
Aishwarya Pillai, Digital Green
+ 91-11-41881037, contact [at] digitalgreen.org