Grameen Foundation and Partners bringing satellite technology to benefit smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana

Grameen Foundation is pleased to announce its engagement in a newly funded consortium, SAT4farming, which will help 240,000 smallholder cocoa farmers across Ghana increase their yields by up to 300 percent, improve their incomes, and build stronger businesses.

The initiative is funded by the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) program of the Netherlands Space Office and led by the Rainforest Alliance. Other partners include Water Watch Projects, Satelligence, Touton, and the University of Ghana.

The three-year project will build on the digital Farm Development Plan (FDP) developed by Grameen Foundation and first deployed for cocoa farmers in Indonesia with Mars Co. Grameen and partners will integrate satellite-based data into the mobile enabled FDP tool to provide crucial information to farmers.

Supports climate-smart farming

Ghana is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa, but many of its cocoa farmers are poor and face significant challenges, including aging trees, low productivity and high susceptibility to pests and diseases. Yet, many farmers could significantly increase their yields by applying good agricultural practices and basic investments in their farms, if they are given advice and support tailored to their needs.

SAT4farming will prepare, manage and monitor digital Farm Development Plans for individual cocoa farmers. It will use satellite imagery to assess a farm’s environmental conditions, such as soil health, water availability, and plant condition, even before visiting the farmer. Satellite data will also be used to monitor plan implementation and impact. The use of satellite data will increase the efficiency and scalability of the digital FDP, requiring fewer field visits and providing more precise data.

To ensure long-term sustainability, Rainforest Alliance and Grameen Foundation will create a social enterprise that will independently manage the SAT4Farming services, with farm aggregators paying for use of the system.

Focus on young and female farmers

Today, 56 percent of Ghanaian cocoa farmers are over the age of 50 and women have long been marginalized in the cocoa supply chain. Therefore, young and female farmers are a key focus of the SAT4Farming program: 30 percent of the farmers to be reached are women, and 30 percent are farmers under 35 years of age.

Dedicated partners with complementary skills

The project partners have worked together previously and are well aligned to support Ghanaian cocoa farmers. Rainforest Alliance will manage the overall project and facilitate partner relationships. Grameen Foundation, a global leader in digital innovations to end poverty, will further develop the Farm Development Plan platform to incorporate remote sensing technology for SAT4Farming. Water Watch Projects and Satelligence will leverage their deep expertise in remote sensing to connect satellite imagery with Farm Development Plans. The University of Ghana will focus on the monitoring and evaluation of the work, using their detailed knowledge of the Ghanaian context. The program will be developed using the cocoa sector expertise of Touton, a leading commodity trader, and be piloted with Touton’s farmer network in Ghana.

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