Students from Asia Institute of Management (AIM) who envisions to convert farmers into agri-preneurs won as the grand winner of the first-ever East-West Seed (EWS) Innovation Olympics held at 8 Waves Waterpark and Hotel in Bulacan.
Team Agriviz, with their project e-Magsasaka online platform, exemplified entrepreneurial innovation and made the most significant impact in their adopted farming community, thus bagging the P250,000 cash prize.
Team Agriviz is composed of Aiah Sarmiento, Gorby Dimalanta, Aaron David, and mentored by East-West Seed’s Downstream Marketing Manager Dexter Difuntorum, who explained that the e-Magsasaka platform could help the entire vegetable farming ecosystem – from the farmers to the private and retail buyers.
Meanwhile, Team Pocket Farm from UP Los Baños received the East-West Seed Employees’ Choice Special Award for their concept.. Their project makes use of the ubiquitous cellphone to help farmers manage the moisture content of their farmlands.
The 3rd group, Team i-Agriventures, also from UP Los Baños, hopes to address through their multi-crop dryer, effectively converting excess fresh tomatoes to dried tomatoes and creating an alternative way for farmers to sell their produce.
Late last year, the three team finalists received P150,000 seed money for the implementation of their projects and were given 120 days, from October to December 2017, to implement their projects and adopt a farming community to pilot test the said projects.
The e-Magsasaka is an agricultural e-commerce platform that aims to address two of the major problems of our farmers: lack of direct access between buyers and growers and lack of market information between buyers and growers. It hopes to minimize the involvement of middlemen which would then increase the farmers’ revenue to at least 20% and keep the prices of vegetables more affordable for the consumers. Their business model converts farmers’ mind-set to being market-driven rather than production-driven.
In the Philippines, farmers represent the second-poorest sector. Due to this, the young people shy away from pursuing a career in agriculture. But what people do not know is that vegetable farming is a lucrative profession and could be a key for our people to get out of poverty. However, there is the need to address several challenges such as outdated farming practices and the lack of modern techniques that makes farming labor intensive and unsustainable in the country.
To help in addressing this, EWS launched the Innovation Olympics this 2017 as part of their 35th anniversary celebration.
Reflecting one of the company’s core values: “Learning and Innovation,” the competition aims to effectively address 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. Through the Innovation Olympics, EWS harnesses the minds of the youth to come up with their own innovative technological intervention to improve the productivity in vegetable farming.
One of the 10 largest vegetable seed companies in the world, East-West Seed is an integrated vegetable seed company engaged in the development, production, and distribution of tropical vegetable seeds. The company products include over 90 varieties of vegetable seeds, seedlings, and ornamentals in addition to greenhouse and drip irrigation systems. EWS is also involved in upgrading the knowledge and skills of farmer through its Knowledge Transfer activities. In 2016 alone, the company trained 46,782 smallholder farmers on more productive and sustainable vegetable farming techniques.
Today, EWS hopes to address major challenges in the local vegetable industry, food and nutrition sustainability, and improving smallholder farmers’ income.