Agriculture plays a significant role in Togo.
Bordered by Benin and Ghana, Togo is characterised by a tropical climate in the southern region. In Togo, agriculture has an economic and social importance as 65% of the population work within this sector; and coffee, cocoa and cotton contribute to 40% of external earnings. In terms of commercial value, cotton is first on list.
Globally, Togo is the 4th largest producer of phosphate.
The country does have some environmental challenges, which stem from deforestation (a result of slash and burn agriculture) and wood, fuel and water pollution. As a nation, Togo is aware of these issues and the immense potential of agriculture for economic and social benefits. Therefore, in recent years, Togo has acquired inventive ways of maintaining and improving agricultural practices.
The Centre for Commercial and Agricultural Information
Now more than ever, countries within West Africa lean on technology to improve the standard of the socioeconomic landscape of the region. Established in Togo, the Centre for Commercial and Agricultural Information allows Togolese farmers and traders to engage in discussions about prices and available products in real time. These business-related conversations take place on computers connected to tradenet.biz.
This internet-based platform has a variety of benefits for Togolese farmers. Farmers can gain access to business opportunities in the area and check stock availability of products. The Centre for Commercial and Agricultural Information allows for commercial transactions within West Africa and other locations. Farmers can send SMSes to producers, salesmen and purchasers. The Centre for Commercial and Agricultural Information’s project is multifaceted, and is improving the nature of farming in Togo.
“Via this facility, one will seek the market where one can find it and where one can better sell. By selling their products, one has enough money and that can contribute to the improvement of our living conditions,” said Denis Mbadia, Chair Regional Rooms of Agriculture of Togo. This facility makes life easier for farmers and increases market awareness, thereby strengthening their business and negotiation skills.
Togo’s project is supported by the regional network of information systems of market and agricultural trade in West Africa (MISTOWA). MISTOWA aims to grow regional trade and food protection by strengthening and connecting existing regional efforts to distribute and utilise market data.
Agriculture Startup: e-Agribusiness
Launched in March 2015 by entrepreneur Edeh Dona Etchri, e-Agribusiness is an important source of information for farmers.
“The e-Agribusiness platform connects people and organisations across the sector. Farmers in remote, isolated areas can find new outlets for their produce, either locally, elsewhere in the region or even in other countries. The platform also provides a wealth of information, so users can make informed buying decisions, get weather forecasts or secure funding for their business”, said Etchri, explaining how the platform works.
Etchri’s startup is aimed at farms primarily and buyers. E-Agribusiness is set on improving business conditions for farmers, even those without access to the internet. Alongside the app and website, the company has established call centres and an SMS and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) alert service that supplies information to farmers and buyers seeking to sell stock or learn more about farming techniques.
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) cooperated with Etchri, offering marketing and entrepreneurial support.
Around 6,000 farmers in Togo use e-Agribusiness, proving that technology is impacting this nation’s agricultural sector steadily.