Team Agriviz won the 1st ever East-West Seed (EWS) Innovation Olympics held at 8 Waves Waterpark and Hotel in Bulacan. The group is composed of Aiah Sarmiento, Gorby Dimalanta, Aaron David, and mentored by East-West Seed’s Downstream Marketing Manager Dexter Difuntorum, who explained that the e-Magsasaka platform could help the entire vegetable farming ecosystem – from the farmers to the private and retail buyers. It was launched last year, as a competition challenging the next generation of agriculture, business, and technology leaders to develop innovative solutions to real-life challenges of small-holder vegetable farmers. The three finalists were Team Pocket Farm, Team Agriviz, and Team i-Agri Ventures. Find out more about their projects, and who walked away with the grand prize of P250,000.
Team Pocket Farm composed of Vince Maningas and Arvin Garcia was mentored by East-West Seed’s Project Manager, Martin Hinlo, thought of using the cellphone as a tool to help the farmers in determining the moisture level of their farmlands and prompt them through text messages on when to water their vegetables and how much water their plants needs.
Intelligent sensors that assess the moisture content of the farms are linked to the farmers’ cellphone and triggers the prompt.
Claiming 80-90% accuracy in determining moisture content, the Pocket farm device hopes to address the oftentimes erratic system of farm irrigation, a major factor in vegetable production.
Team Pocket Farm piloted their device in petchay farms in Los Banos and Calamba and are hopeful that their gadget could help increase farmers’ produce by as much as 40-50%.
There is an irony in tomato growing such that when it’s peak season, they get an oversupply of fresh tomatoes and the price plummets down from P15 per kilo to P5 per kilo.
This is the dilemma that Team i-Agri Ventures, composed of Jonas Ruzgal, Jayson Fumera, and Mark Limbo from UP Los Banos, hopes to address through their multi-crop dryer, effectively converting excess fresh tomatoes to dried tomatoes and creating an alternative way for farmers to sell their produce.
Team i-Agri Ventures mentor Arthur Cabacungan said that most tomato growers do not have a storage facility and are, thus, forced to sell their excess produce at more than 80% less its actual value. However, with their solar-operated dryer, farmers get to convert their excess produce to dried tomatoes catering to a different market, those who opt for dried tomatoes as an alternative to cooking.
Team i-Agri Ventures is optimistic that their multi-crop dryer could help hike farmers’ revenue by as much as 30%.
One of the 10 largest vegetable seed companies in the world, East-West Seed is an integrated vegetable seed company engaged in the development, production, and distribution of tropical vegetable seeds. The company products include over 90 varieties of vegetable seeds, seedlings, and ornamentals in addition to greenhouse and drip irrigation systems. EWS is also involved in upgrading the knowledge and skills of the farmer through its Knowledge Transfer activities. In 2016 alone, the company trained 46,782 smallholder farmers on more productive and sustainable vegetable farming techniques.
Today, EWS hopes to address major challenges in the local vegetable industry, food and nutrition sustainability, and improving smallholder farmers’ income.