Digital tool for farmers launched

A Philippine-hosted intergovernmental treaty organization, in partnership with a Pasig-based startup, launched a digital agriculture exchange platform called AgriEX, which allows fair trade via a farm-to-fork system.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture’s (Searca) Emerging Innovation for Growth (EIG) department and startup APPGeese have been working to establish a pilot digital agriculture platform in Laguna and Quezon provinces, particularly in vegetable farming communities at the foot of Mount Banahaw.

During the virtual launch of the project, Raymund Austria, APPGeese chief executive officer, explained that AgriEX would help farmers attain financial inclusion with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning so they could grow and manage their crops more efficiently.

“By having this platform, we hope to encourage more interest in reinvigorating the agriculture sector by helping share the experiences of farmers as well as to be able to spread knowledge and be able to cross-pollinate with interested people who want to go into the business of agriculture,” he said.

Austria said he was convinced that convenience and value are the strongest buying motivators for people to buy online. He added that with AgriEX, people get access to a wide selection of fresh produce straight from the farm and delivered to their doorstep.

He also said people can now pre-order crops at pre-agreed prices, subscribe for regular deliveries and know the story of the produce on how they were grown, tended and harvested. AgriEX has an artificial intelligence/machine learning-powered agricultural management, planning, and record-keeping.

It was in October 2020 when Searca and APPGeese started coordinating with local government units, as well as meeting with leaders of farmer organizations and potential farmer-cooperators in Nagcarlan and Liliw towns in Laguna and Dolores in Quezon.

According to Rico Ancog, Searca program lead for EIG, the virtual launch of AgriEX was the culmination of these efforts.

Ancog said the installation of the digital cloudpost trunks would provide farmers in the pilot sites with free internet access to use the agricultural management feature of AgriEX 24/7, as well as sell their produce.

“AgriEX is much more than an online store because it also a platform for farm management where the pilot farmer-cooperators will also be supported with technical inputs to ensure a good harvest and high-quality produce,” he said.

Searca Director Glenn Gregorio said farmers need to have access to next-generation agricultural technologies and innovations like this development of digital agriculture platforms designed to enhance market linkage of smallholder vegetable farmers.

On Feb. 28, 2021, AgriEX held a “Buena Mano Live Selling” that was the first time farmers sold their produce through the platform with the following day or March 1 as the first day of delivery.