A GROUP from the Asian Institute of Management claimed the first East-West Seed Innovation Olympics Championship with their e-Magsasaka platform that converts farmers to “agri-preneurs” recently at the 8 Waves Waterpark and Hotel in Bulacan.
Team Agriviz, composed of Aiah Sarmiento, Gorby Dimalanta and Aaron David, and mentored by East-West Seed’s Downstream Marketing Manager Dexter Difuntorum, takes great pride in their e-Magsasaka online platform, which hopes to address two of the major problems of our farmers–lack of direct access and lack of market information between buyers and growers.
Their unique web-based program for farmers that could potentially eliminate the “middle men factor” won them the championship and a cool P250,000 cash prize to bolster their innovative project.
The e-Magsasaka online platform hopes to minimize the involvement of middlemen, thereby increasing the farmers’ revenue by at least 20% and keeping the prices of vegetables more affordable for the consumers.
“This team really deserves to be champions. I saw how hard they wanted this as they connected all the aspects to come up with a brilliant platform,” said team mentor Difuntorum.
The platform would have a database, where buyers could find the farmers that could provide the produce that they need. At the same time, the farmers could also use the database to find the market to sell their produce.
During the six-month pilot stage, Team Agriviz worked with farmers’ cooperatives, local government units and vegetable buyers to ensure that the e-Magsasaka platform would significantly benefit the entire ecosystem of vegetable production.
Team Agriviz bested two other student groups—Team Pocket Farm and Team i-Agri Ventures, both from University of the Philippines Los Banos.
Team Pocket Farm composed of Vince Maningas and Arvin Garcia, was mentored by East-West Seed’s Project Manager, Martin Hinlo. The team thought of using the cellphone as a tool to help the farmers in determining the moisture level of their farm lands and prompt them through text messages on when to water their vegetables and how much water their plants need.
Team Pocket Farm also received the East-West Seed Employees’ Choice Special Award for this concept.
Team i-Agri Ventures, on the other hand, came up with a solar-powered multi-crop dryer that could significantly cut post-harvest loss and create new markets for vegetable farmers.
Composed of Jonas Ruzgal, Jayson Fumera, and Mark Limbo from UP Los Banos, the team hopes to address this problem through their multi-crop dryer, effectively converting excess fresh tomatoes to sun-dried tomatoes and creating an alternative way for farmers to sell their produce.
About The Innovation Olympics
Innovation Olympics 2017 was launched as part of the East-West Seed’s 35th anniversary last year with the theme, “Growing Opportunities.” East-West Seed, founded in 1982 by Dutch seedsman Simon Groot and Filipino seed trader Benito Domingo, is the first integrated vegetable company in the Philippines and one of the 10 biggest tropical vegetable seed producers in the world.
“One of the major pillars of East-West Seed is learning and innovation. And so far, we have trained and enabled close to 50,000 smallholder farmers on proper vegetable farming techniques,” Henk Hermans, East-West Seed Philippines General Manager, said.
Innovation Olympics, he added, is a manifestation of East-West Seed’s commitment to address the two biggest problems facing vegetable farmers in the Philippines. “Farmers represent the second poorest sector in the Philippines. This sad reality results in our young people ‘s disenchantment of pursuing a career in agriculture. The average age of Filipino farmers is 57-59 years old that is why we have to inspire our youth to discover the beauty of farming. We at East-West Seed know that there is money in vegetable farming and it could be a solid route in improving the lives of our people.”
“Another problem is that farming practices in the Philippines are outdated and majority of our farmers are reluctant to use technology in farming making their work labor intensive and unsustainable,” Hermans said.
Through the Innovation Olympics, East-West Seed hopes to harness the minds of the youth to come up with their own innovative technological intervention. Students from different multiple backgrounds come up with sustainable solutions to improve productivity in vegetable farming, effectively addressing two major farming concerns: integration of technological innovations to improve vegetable production and to inspire the youth to consider farming as a professional goal and be ambassadors of modern day agriculture.
“East-West Seed will continue to pursue ways on how to better equip Filipino vegetable farmers, inspire the youth to use their passion for technology in coming up with more innovative ideas for the farming sector and hopefully influence them to become the new breed of Filipino farmers,” Hermans added.