As mentioned in the business model canvas explanation there are eight big LBCs in Ghana. The main role of the LBCs is to collect as much cocoa beans as possible from the cocoa farmers, transport it and eventually sell them to The Ghana Cocoa Board, Cocobod. As the buy and sell prices of the cocoa beans are fixed, the more bags of cocoa one collects, the more revenue one makes.
These eight big LBCs in Ghana, are active on the cocoa market and compete to gather as much as possible cocoa beans from farmers. In order to achieve this, it is important to have a good relationship with the farmers. A good affiliation with your farmers is the key to have them sell their cocoa to you, instead of to another. LBCs try several things to accomplish this.
The first way is that the purchasing clerk from the LBCs has good relations with the cocoa farmers. Purchasing clerks are mostly people from the same community as the farmers. It is someone they trust. Next to the relations, the purchasing clerk needs to have enough money to buy the cocoa when the cocoa is ready to be picked up from the cocoa farmers. When the purchasing clerk does not have enough money the cocoa farmers sells it to another purchasing clerk from another LBC.
The second way is organising workshops and gatherings for farmers to harvest, farm and do business in the most efficient way. This is not only in favour of farmers, but also of the LBCs.
During these gatherings the farmers and LBCs sing together and pray together.
In this way the LBCs create a bonding with the cocoa farmers and therefore the farmers feel connected to the LBC. This eventually could lead to selling the cocoa to that LBC.
The last method used is that, the purchasing clerk of the LBCs is providing loans to cocoa farmers at no interest rate. In this way the purchasing clerk is certain that in return of the money that is provided, he can collect the cocoa beans. The farmers owe the clerk money, which makes them dependent on the LBC.
After all these ways of collecting is done, the cocoa is stored in the warehouses of the LBCs. Afterwards the cocoa bags are sold and transported to Cocobod. In the section of Cocobod there is a more detailed schedule of how this process is build up.
The LBCs do not have many struggles besides gathering as much cocoa bags as possible to generate a maximum revenue. There are however some tools that could make their lives easier. After talking to many LBCs, like Adwumapa, Kuapa Kokoo and Agro ECOM, there was found one bottleneck for their way of doing business. The farmers, the LBCs are in contact with, do not always know how big their farm is. This information is needed to estimate the cocoa harvest. In this way the LBCs know how much cocoa bags they can collect from their farmers and which farm has a higher productivity per acre.
Farmerline has a solution for this struggle of the lack of information, called Mapping. The mapping service of Farmerline uses GPS to pinpoint the farms. With these pinpoints there can be made a polygon and the software calculates how big the farm is. This data is stored online in the MERGdata app of Farmerline which can be accessed either online or offline. As already mentioned, the minor group has already talked to many LBCs, and already two of the LBCs came to the headquarter of Farmerline for a second meeting; Adwumapa and Agro Ecom.
Agro Ecom belongs to the eight big LBCs of Ghana and has several warehouses in Ghana, each serving around 1,250 farmers. Every warehouse has a district manager and a field supervisor. The district manager is responsible for the purchasing clerks, where the purchasing clerk is responsible for 30 to 35 farmers and does the first quality check before he buys the cocoa of the farmer. Afterwards he brings the cocoa to the warehouse, where the QCB of Cocobod will check the quality again. Then the bags will be sealed and tagged with a tracking code. When enough bags of cocoa are collected in the warehouse it will be transported to Cocobod. Then Ecom will receive the money for the cocoa from Cocobod.
Next to the district manager, there is a field supervisor, who is responsible for the lead farmers. The field supervisor ensures that the lead farmers are educated properly and build strong relations with them. Due to the network of the lead farmers, often the farmers are loyal to Agro Ecom. Which means that the farmers often sell their yield to Agro Ecom, but mostly it will be only 75 per cent of the total yield. The other 25% has been granted to purchasing clerks from other LBCs, because they were able to give loans to farmers in emergency cases, when Agro Ecom was not able to do this. Since farmers want to sell their yield as quickly as possible when the cocoa is ready, it means that the purchasing clerk and the lead farmers need to work together to get as much bags of cocoa as possible.
With all the research the minor group has done, a persona was created, see “Figure 31. Persona LBC” on page <?>. A persona is a collection of interesting items about the certain person, so the needs of the LBCs are visualised.