Mars, Rainforest Alliance launch cocoa farming program using satellite imagery in Ghana
Program offers advice, monitoring through digital farm development plans.
July 26, 2018
Mars, Inc. and the Rainforest Alliance, in partnership with Touton and the Grameen Foundation, have launched in Ghana SAT4Farming, an initiative using digital technology and satellite imagery to guide farmers over a seven-year period.
SAT4Farming involves creating digital farm development plans (FDPs), which serve as a planning and monitoring tool available over mobile devices. Advice on farm practices and investments, climate adaptation, certification training -- alongside ongoing monitoring -- provide farmers, including women and youth, with data-based guidance to a more sustainable future.
Smallholder farmers, who produce the majority of the world’s cocoa, face declining yields, mounting threats from pests and disease and persistent poverty. In addition, farmers rarely get the training and advice they need to change their circumstances.
SAT4Farming partners include the global nonprofits the Rainforest Alliance and Grameen Foundation; global cocoa trader Touton; the University of Ghana’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness; the Netherlands-based Satelligence and WaterWatch Projects.
With the launch, Touton has begun deploying the SAT4Farming digital FDP among its network of farmers and suppliers for Mars, Inc. Meanwhile, Mars suppliers across a number of countries are adopting similar approaches to support a more sustainable cocoa sector by improving smallholders’ livelihoods and protecting the environment. COCOBOD fully supports the program’s implementation in Ghana.
SAT4Farming builds on a pilot in Indonesia where Mars, the Rainforest Alliance and Grameen Foundation partnered to create the digital FDP. It is based on a specialized agronomic model for cocoa that includes digital certification performance information. In Ghana, the integration of satellite imagery is expected to streamline the process of creating an FDP, facilitate monitoring, and provide greater insights into dynamic environmental conditions.
Initial funding comes from the Geodata for Agriculture and Water program of the Netherlands Space Office. The program plans to launch a social enterprise that will make SAT4Farming services widely available and ensure the economic sustainability of the work.