Liliw farmers reimagine agriculture with SEARCA pilot project on digital agriculture

  • By Darlyn Angeles
  • 21 December 2023

In a bid to revolutionize farming practices, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) joined forces with AppGeese Inc., a sociotechnoprise pioneering a digital agriculture platform in Laguna province in 2020. Three years into the initiative, SEARCA's Emerging Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD) has recently conducted a monitoring visit to Liliw, Laguna, assessing the impact of the project on local farmers and agricultural groups.

Liliw farmers reimagine agriculture with SEARCA pilot project on digital agriculture

LUFAMCO, or the Liliw Upland Farmers Marketing Cooperative, became an integral part of the project under the guidance of Ms. Eunice H. Decena, municipal agriculture officer. Prior to their involvement, farmers in Liliw sold their produce individually, limiting their market to the local vicinity. They cultivated a diverse range of vegetables and crops, including cabbage, string beans, chayote, radish, among other crops that thrive in upland areas. Recognizing the potential for market linkage and the robust support structure in the area, LUFAMCO was selected by the project team to participate in piloting a digital agriculture platform.

Initially, ten farmer members underwent a series of activities, including field visits, training in packaging and sorting, and introduction to digital marketing using the AgriEx application. A designated farmer coordinator, Mr. Marvin Felices, emerged to streamline communication among members. Through AgriEx, real-time access to buyers, orders, and market demand empowered Mr. Felices to guide his fellow farmers in aligning their crops with market trends. AppGeese facilitated seamless transactions, picking up produce within a day, and offering immediate payment through e-money transfer while surpassing prevailing market prices.

Over the span of two years, (2020–22), LUFAMCO conducted regular transactions using the digital platform. Furthermore, the cooperative attracted attention from other marketing partners, including the Kadiwa Market managed by the Department of Agriculture and the Gawad Kalinga—further expanding their market reach.

Liliw farmers reimagine agriculture with SEARCA pilot project on digital agriculture

In addition to adopting an enhanced entrepreneurial mindset, the farmer group diversified their activities. With assistance from the Department of Science and Technology, they ventured into producing and selling their own organic fertilizer. Moreover, LUFAMCO constructed a multipurpose building within the town proper, which is generating additional income by renting it out.

President of LUFAMCO, Mr. Enrico Arvesu, expressed gratitude for the transformative impact of the project, stating, "We are very thankful to be identified in this kind of project, that helped us appreciate the importance of planning and consolidation of our produce to reach wider market."

"This opens more opportunities for our group, and online marketing gives us the opportunity to reach more customers beyond our local area. We truly saw our potential," Mr. Arvesu further said.

For the municipality of Liliw, this initiative signifies a commitment to embrace opportunities that uplift the livelihood of local farmers. The success of this project has spurred the municipality to explore further partnerships, with plans in the pipeline to connect their produce to even wider markets, ensuring sustained growth for the agricultural community.