AIM, NVSU teams named Innovation Olympics 2.0 finalists

Young innovators from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU) will compete with fellow finalists from the Visayas and Mindanao for the grand prize of P200,000 after besting nine other teams at the Luzon Demo Day of the Innovation Olympics 2.0 (IO2) held online last year.

Each finalist will receive P100,000 for the implementation of their projects.

Launched in October 2020, this second edition of the Innovation Olympics is a nationwide search for innovative solutions in precision agriculture for small-scale vegetable farming developed by young Filipinos.

The AIM team developed Farm Journal Using Analytics and Networks (FarmJuan), which is a digital agriculture system enabler that provides actionable insights for farmers that can help increase yield and profit, monitor farm inputs and minimize their production costs.

AIM team members Earwin Belen, Carlo Tansuk, Kit Sumabat and Arvi Ubaldo, all students of AIM Master of Science in Innovation and Business, noted that without proper information, farmers may not be able to increase the efficiency of their farm inputs and boost their farm productivity.

“FarmJuan will provide end-to-end solutions that empower farmers and consumers by leveraging IoT sensors, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and blockchain to monitor, detect and trace vegetables at the farm level,” Belen said.

It will also link farmers to a licensed agriculturist that can provide prescriptions to the farmers based on the data from the system, he further explained.

The AIM team said their system can give farmers access to data for better farm production, provide quality monitoring based on good agricultural practices (GAP) and improve their agricultural marketing. It is also envisaged to help increase marketable yields and farmgate prices and lower production costs.

On the other hand, the NVSU team developed the Automated Irrigation and Nutrient Management System (AIRIN) which is a synergistic system that helps farmers manage irrigation and insect infestation remotely.

The NVSU team composed of Myka Fragata, Maricel Farro and Jaime Hapicio noted that proper irrigation and soil health are essential to higher crop yield.

However, Fragata said irrigation remains a challenge to farmers, especially during the dry season when it may take three days and two nights to irrigate one hectare, and some farmers can only afford soil testing once a year because manual testing can be costly and takes time away from other farm duties.

She explained that they want to create a sure system where farmers will not struggle in irrigation and fertilizer and pesticide application because they can control their farm operations just through text messaging or SMS. 

“With AIRIN, farmers can get a synergistic system with soil sensors that can measure the soil’s current moisture; pH; salinity; temperature; nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium content; and a water level sensor to know the availability of water from the source remotely,” Fragata said.

According to the team, farmers can get through AIRIN a communication system that can log all these data and send real-time updates and recommendations to farmers to ensure healthy soils and increase crop yield, and a solar-powered irrigation system that can water up to 15 meters deep and deliver up to 1,000 liters per hour.

The Luzon finalists will be implementing their projects together with their mentors from March to May 2021. Along with the finalists from the Visayas and Mindanao, they will present their results at the Innovation Olympics 2.0 National Demo Day in June 2021.

Prior to the Luzon Demo Day on Dec. 19, 2020, a three-day hackathon with design thinking expert Carlo Valencia was held for 11 competing teams from Luzon. The hackathon enabled them to refine their ideas through the concepts of design thinking, a process used to understand the users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

Innovation Olympics 2.0 is a collaboration of East-West Seed with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), Sensient Colors LLC, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), UPLB-Technology Transfer and Business Development Office or UPLB-TTBDO, UPLB Startup Innovation and Business Opportunity Linkaging Labs or SIBOL Labs, and APEX: The UPLB Business Network.

Searca’s support to the IO2 is anchored on its priority focus on Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG) to achieve outcomes or solutions that can be described as transformational innovation.

Searca director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said these innovations may be in the form of agripreneurship startups, technology adaptation or prototypes such as those being developed in the competition.

“The IO2 is the platform where the innovative, adventurous or crazy ideas of our youth can be honed and tested in the farmers’ field and make the life of farmers comfortable and profitable. We believe that our youth are the implementors of Agriculture 4.0 and they have the ability to make it a reality,” Gregorio said.

Among the judges during the Luzon Demo Day besides Gregorio was Dr. Rico Ancog, Searca program lead for EIG as well as UP Scientist 3 and UPLB associate professor.