SMART, together with the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute, is modernizing agriculture through the Digital Farmers Program or DFP. The ladderized capacity-building program aims to enable smallholder farmers to use the internet and different mobile technologies to improve their livelihood.
After the successful rollout of the DFP 101 basic course that benefited more than 1,500 individuals since 2019, farmers are now expanding income opportunities by applying skills developed from DFP 102, an intermediate course that makes use of more sophisticated digital farming tools and skills.
“With the use of Agri apps discussed in the course, I can stop pests like stem borers and black bugs from wreaking havoc on our crops. This has resulted in better yields for us, even doubling our harvest,” said Geomar Avila, a 21-year-old college student who still finds time to tend to their farm in San Agustin, Agusan del Sur.
The course trains farmers in using the SPIDTECH application developed by Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (Project SARAI). Using the phone’s built-in camera, farmers can identify, manage, report and monitor pests and diseases of major Philippine crops.
Boosting this capability is another application developed by East-West Seed Philippines called ‘Plant Doctor Online’ that also helps identify and manage plant diseases.
The DFP 102 also develops e-commerce skills so farmers can effectively market their produce using social media, and at the same time, manage online transactions and digital payments like PayMaya.
The module is particularly useful for 76-year-old Plaquino Ceñal whose family also manufactures chocolate products derived from their cacao plantation in Tagum City in Davao del Norte.
“Through digital platforms, we can sell our products directly to consumers without the need for physical stores. This ensures access to the market even in the time of the pandemic when people movement is regulated,” explained Ceñal.
Launched in the second half of 2021, DFP 102 has so far trained more than 400 farmers and youth partners from 27 communities across the country.
Smart actively pushes for the use of digital technologies to improve the lives and livelihood of farmers and usher them into the digital economy. These efforts underscore the telco’s commitment to support the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG 1: No Poverty, and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.