Considered as the backbone of the Philippine economy, agriculture plays a critical role in pump priming the country’s economy but it is hounded by various challenges such as lack of fully mechanized equipment, high prices of farm inputs, and damaging natural calamities, to name a few, that affect the income of farmers.
Despite offering quality and fresh farm produce in the market, the income of our local farmers suffers due to limited access to their customers.
In the episode of the DOST Report aired on 02 September 2022, several technology-based platforms developed and supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) were introduced and shared where social marketing and data analysis could open more livelihood opportunities and increase the income of local smallholder farmers and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Farm Konek: Connecting local farmers with institutional buyers
Farm Konek was developed by Project Zacchaeus. It is an impact-focused and community-based farm management platform for inventory and management. It aims to create a sustainable clustered production of high-value and lowland vegetables through data-driven clustered and climate-proofed production among the smallholder farmers living below the poverty line.
“If you look at the population ng mga farmer sa buong Pilipinas, mostly they are smallholder farmers and we know naman na maraming platforms out there that offer marketing services but in reality, it is not known to be sustainable kung hindi natin namomonitor ng maayos ang production and inventory lalo na iyong mga maliliit na magsasaka,” said John Gastanes, general manager of Project Zacchaeus.
Gastanes also shared that there are a lot of marketing opportunities provided by the government through a very strong marketing network like the Kadiwa marketing services that buy directly from smallholder farmers.
However, Gastanes said that one of the biggest concerns is the sustainability of the production. He said that most of the time, we expect our farmers to send the data and upload it to the computer every time they harvest. But if we look at the ecosystem of the supply chain of food security, we need to plan ahead of time.
“For that kind of system, we need to cluster our farmers. One of the things na nakita ko for you the people to cluster efficiently, may maayos na farm plan and schedule of harvest, you need to have the help of each farmer to supply this Kadiwa store or these groceries,” explained Gastanes.
Gastanes said that basically, they offer those services to cluster farms that have at least one hectare of land and they need to commit 30% of their actual production.
He said that Farm Konek’s main interventions are inventory management and reporting system as well as capacity building especially since a lot of smallholder farmers are not familiar yet with climate change protocols and new production strategies.
Gastanes further shared that they started with a few associations ranging from 35 to 70 memberships in one barangay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
“Dati yield na minamarket lang naming is to test it, ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 pesos worth of transactions. Now, we are ranging from 300,000 to 600,000 monthly transactions,” said Gastanes.
Gastanes said that they now have an estimated 5,000,000 farmers in the Philippines, and they are targeting to reach as many farmers as they can through the clustering system.
“If the government can work with young leaders like us, we will embrace that because I believe in proactive change in national transformation built by synergy,” shared Gastanes.
OneSTore City App: Enabling MSMEs to overcome economic disruption from the pandemic
OneStore.ph is an e-commerce platform that helps micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) market their products online. The platform creates a borderless marketplace that allows MSMEs to sell their products to more customers; thereby indirectly contributing to the increase in job generation and address the issue of food insecurity in the country.
Surprisingly, due to the pandemic where the movement of people was restricted, the operation of OneSTore.ph was intensified. Due to the lockdown, OneSTore walk-in-transactions definitely decreased but the upside was that the use of the e-commerce platform increased, thereby translating to more sales.
In response to this promising trend, the DOST launched the OneSTore City, a delivery app for android that was designed and developed to provide a better and effortless shopping experience for consumers through digital means.
According to Verlyne O. Gorospe, project assistant III from DOST Region II, OneSTore City is a same-day delivery application created and developed for fresh and major agricultural goods. She said that once they partner with the Department of Agriculture through its Kadiwa program, the initiative can boost the sales of our local farmers.
She added that OneStore.ph partnered with several logistics companies such as J&T Express, Ninja Van, and 2GO Express to cope with the increasing demand of online buyers.
For more details about the Farm Konek and OneSTore City app, as well as other recent updates and development in the local scientific scene, you may watch the full episodes of DOST Report at the DOSTv Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DOSTvPH and DOSTv YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/DOSTvPH.