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Digital ‘farm-to-market road’ breaks ground

e-magsasaka proponents win East-West Seeds Innovation Olympics top prize
/ 05:15 AM April 29, 2018

CHAMPIONS The innovators who conceived “e-magsasaka” pose with East-West Seeds Philippines general manager Henk Hernans, (sixth from left) and Dexter Difuntorum, the group’s mentor, when they were awarded a ceremonial check for winning the first Innovation Olympics in San Rafael, Bulacan. —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE

SAN RAFAEL, BULACAN—In the near future, the country’s farmers could start selling their produce in a digital market, thanks to students who believe they have finally found a way to make food producers richer.

An online database platform called “e-magsasaka” hopes to reduce the involvement of middlemen in marketing crops and eventually increase farmer profits by 20 percent and keep prices at an affordable level, said a group of graduates who took home the P250,000-prize in the first Innovation Olympics organized by East-West Seeds.

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Gorby Dimalanta, Aiah Sarmiento and Aaron David, who completed their Masters of Science degree in Innovation and Business at the Asian Institute of Management; EJ Tamayao, a Bachelor of Science degree holder in information systems at De La Salle University; and Glenn Bueno, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Mapua University, plan to use their prize money for new and innovative ideas.

Plant-breeding firm East-West Seeds developed the Innovation Olympics to help discover new technologies that would improve the productivity of farmers, said Dexter Difuntorum, the company’s downstream marketing manager.

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He said the winning entry addressed two of the major problems of farmers—direct access to markets and the absence of market information among buyers and food growers.

The “e-magsasaka” online platform is a database where buyers could locate farmers who grow the produce they require.

The platform also allows farmers to actively market their crops.

“The principle in farming [which the online tool embraces] is to focus more on the marketability rather than the production [of crops],” Sarmiento said.

Interested buyers and farmers can register at www.emagsasaka.com for free until the end of the year.

Once linked, they get real-time updates on available crop supplies, deliveries and payments.

Farmers are required to post-crop development schedules to allow buyers to time their shipment close to the date of harvest.

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The “e-magsasaka” also widens the market possibilities of farmers who used to sell their produce only at local trading areas.

“Take farmers of San Ildefonso town in Bulacan. Their concentration of deliveries will not only be limited to Balintawak and Divisoria where they commonly bring their products,” Sarmiento said.

“The products being produced by our farmers have difficulties in reaching the potential markets especially those away from Manila. This innovation will bring to poor farmers, groups and cooperatives the technology they need to yield better sales and marketability,” said Henk Hernans, general manager of East-West Seeds Philippines.

East-West Seeds, founded in 1982, has become one of the leading plant breeding specialists in Southeast Asia.

It focuses on small farmers, who represent 85 percent of the world’s food producers.

The Innovation Olympics drew teams from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, AIM, De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University. —CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE

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TAGS: e-magsasaka, East-West Seeds Innovation Olympics, farm-to-market road
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