AgriG8 offers green financial solutions

REPRESENTATIVES from a pioneer on agronomy-based risk assessment approach visited the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) "to foster green financial solutions and digital innovations."

The delegation from AgriG8 visited the SEARCA headquarters in Los Banos, Laguna, on October 20 and was led by its chief executive officer, David Chen, and Joshua Tan, chief operating officer. Vanessa Teo, AgriG8 chief technology officer, and Qian Yu Ho, project manager, also formed part of the delegation.

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said AgriG8 was a participant of the roundtable discussion series on Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems in Southeast Asia held in April this year and spearheaded by SEARCA and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Helping rice farmers adopt optimized and sustainable practices, AgriG8 provides a unique farmer-focused experience which provides food producers the ability to increase their yield and nutrient efficiency while enabling them to reduce their carbon footprint and be certified as sustainable.

During the meeting on Friday, Chen provided updates on their initiatives since the roundtable discussion in April and shared AgriG8's collaboration with financial institutions to create green financial products that can help solve rice farmers' habit of loaning from multiple sources. Also, AgriG8 helps farmers get access to affordable climate finance to help them reduce their carbon emissions.

However, Chen highlighted that farmers are more likely to adopt carbon farming practices if they are incentivized, and pointed out that there are challenges in collecting data on farming practices as farmers are not digitally tool savvy and mainly use their phones for entertainment.

In his response, Gregorio noted that while "farmers are used to storing information in their minds, they have their children who know how to use mobile phones and can assist them."

While Gregorio emphasized the importance of youth engagement in agriculture, Chen in echoing this sentiment presented CropPal, a gamified approach to collecting farm data.

Chen explained that CropPal is an application that farmers or their children can use to record and optimize farm activities and track the cost and productivity during planting seasons.

"The kids might not want to return to the rice fields, but it doesn't mean they cannot be involved [in agriculture]. They can always help their parents," Chen said.

Also during the meeting, Eric Reynoso, SEARCA Emerging Innovation for Growth program head, said that extension workers and private institutions have started introducing digital agriculture tools to farmers "but the adoption and acceptability of these tools are not guaranteed."

Informing AgriG8 of SEARCA's capacity-building activity on carbon measurement monitoring, reporting and verification systems in November this year, Reynoso said it is important to train farmers to utilize these digital tools effectively.

He said the first part of the training will include an overview of carbon-wise farming systems and the center's carbon farming and carbon footprint initiatives while the second part will consist of hands-on exercises on familiarizing and using the Carbon Wise Rice Information Management System.

Moreover, Reynoso said that feedback will be gathered regarding the information management system's usability, design and functionality.