Coming Out (My Esoko Story)

David!I joined Esoko 3 months ago. Before joining the organization, I always saw the building on my way home from school, orange and white, and tall. I thought it was a software development firm; which is not completely far from the truth. Anyways, an opening in the communications department, freshly out of a communications school, an interview and a test later I got the job as a communication officer. Now I read about Esoko before my interview (obviously), so I knew it was not just developing software and collecting data prices but was heavily invested in changing the lives of small holder farmers and helping the growth of the agricultural value chain. It was all so nice in abstract and theory. Working here, I read a lot of success stories, case studies and heard Mark Davies, the CEO and other members of the team talk about the impact we were making. I got it and yet I didn’t get it. It was all like “ok so we are changing the lives of farmers, people can now make intelligent buying and selling decisions”… all nice, but it was on paper and it was people involved in the process who were telling me this. Like you know, blowing their own trumpet and stuff… ah well it sounded nice theoretically.
Three months after joining Esoko, our colleagues from our new office in Kenya came down for a visit to see how Esoko Ghana went about operations and to basically get acquainted with the platform. So as part of their visit, we arranged for Paolo, (MD of the Kenya office) and Clem (the Kenyan Sales Manager) to visit one of our beneficiary farms in Esueshia, in the Central region. When Vani, the head of Client Service told me about the trip and asked if the communications team (Garrett and I) would like to join, I was ecstatic. I was practically like a grade school kid going on his first field trip.

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Why Traders are Not Evil

cosmasMy name is Cosmas Kombat, and over the past 3 months I have been researching Market Information Systems (MIS), this particular one funded by GiZ/Market Oriented Agricultural Programme (MOAP) in partnership with Esoko to support maize traders in the Techiman market in Ghana. I wanted to share my new-found perspective on the relationship between traders and farmers.

Market Information Systems, over the past years, have been very useful in supporting businesses and value chains. But when we talk about MIS helping individuals, it is always targeted to small scale farmers. This of course makes sense, considering the information asymmetry that we always talk about–traders have more information than farmers, and they take advantage of that fact. But are we missing something? When I started the feasibility study on Techiman Maize Traders Cooperative Society, even I was a bit reluctant and not sure how traders could be supported with price and market information—especially to the detriment of farmers who are already disadvantaged.

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