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Asian Institute Of Management's Team Agriviz Wins 1st East-West Seed Innovation Olympics

In an unprecedented campaign to promote and innovate farming in the Philippines, with new technologies, East-West Seed culminated Innovation Olympics 2018 last April 21 in Bulacan and proclaimed Asian Institute of Management students as the first winner of Innovation Olympics – a program to address the problems that farmers are facing during the planting of seeds, growing, harvesting, and distributing the crops and produce to the market.
Team Agriviz, from AIM presented their own aolution, the E-magsasaka platform which aims to convert farmers to agri-preneurs.
The E-magsasaka platform, envisions to convert farmers into agri-preneurs, won the championship topping two finalists from UP Los Banos, and received P250,000 cash prize for Team Agriviz of the Asian Institute of Management ( AIM ) at East-West Seed’s Innovation Olympics held at 8 Waves Waterpark and Hotel in Bulacan.
Team Agriviz, composed of Aiah Sarmiento, Gorby Dimalanta, Aaron David, and mentored by East-West Seed’s Downstream Marketing Manager Dexter Difuntorum, takes great pride in their e-magsasaka online platform which hopes to address two of the major problems of our farmers: lack of direct access and lack of market information between buyers and growers.
The e-magsasaka online platform hopes to minimize the involvement of middlemen which would increase the farmers’ revenue by at least 20% and keep the prices of vegetables more affordable for the consumers.
The platform would have a database where buyers could find the farmers that could provide the produce that they need. At the same time, the farmers could also use the database to find the market to sell their produce.
During the 6-month pilot stage, Team Agriviz worked with farmers’ cooperatives, local government units and vegetable buyers to ensure that the e-magsasaka platform would significantly benefit the entire ecosystem of vegetable production.
Team Agriviz bested two other student groups—Team Pocket Farm and Team i-Agri Ventures, both from University of the Philippines Los Banos.
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 farm lands and prompt them through text messages on when to water their vegetables and how much water their plants need.
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%.
Team Pocket Farm received the East-West Seed Employees’ Choice Special Award for their concept.
Team i- Agri Ventures, on the other hand, came up with a solar-powered multi-crop dryer that could significantly cuts post-harvest loss and create new markets for vegetable farmers.
Zeroing in on the irony specific to tomato growing where there is an oversupply of fresh tomatoes during peak season and, as a result, price plummets down from P15 per kilo to P5 per kilo.
Team i-Agri Ventures, composed of Jonas Ruzgal, Jayson Fumera, and Mark Limbo from UP Los Banos, hopes to address this problem through their multi-crop dryer, effectively converting excess fresh tomatoes to sun-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 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 a different market like hotels, restaurants and caterers who are keen to using sun-dried tomatoes as replacement for fresh tomatoes.
Team i-Agri Ventures is optimistic that their multi-crop dryer could help hike farmers’ revenue by as much as 30%.�
Innovation Olympics 2017 was launched as part of the East-West Seed’s 35th anniversary last year with the theme, “Growing Opportunities.” East-West Seed, founded in 1982 by Dutch seedsman Simon Groot and Filipino seed trader Benito Domingo, is the first integrated vegetable company in the Philippines and one of the 10 biggest tropical vegetable seed producers in the world.
“One of the major pillars of East-West Seed is learning and innovation. And so far, we have trained and enabled close to 50,000 smallholder farmers on proper vegetable farming techniques,” Henk Hermans, East-West Seed Philippines General Manager, said.
Innovation Olympics, he adds, is a manifestation of East-West Seed’s commitment to address the two biggest problems facing vegetable farmers in the Philippines.
“Farmers represent the 2nd poorest sector in the Philippines. This sad reality results in our our young people ‘s disenchantment of pursuing a career in agriculture. The average age of Filipino farmers is 57-59 years old that is why we have to inspire our youth to discover the beauty of farming. We at East-West Seed know that there is money in vegetable farming and it could be a solid route in improving the lives of our people.
Another problem is that farming practices in the Philippines are outdated and majority of our farmers are reluctant to use technology in farming making their work labor intensive and unsustainable,” Hermans said.
Through the Innovation Olympics, East-West Seed hopes to harness the minds of the youth to come up with their own innovative technological intervention. Students from different multiple backgrounds come up with sustainable solutions to improve productivity in vegetable farming, effectively addressing two major farming concerns: integration of technological innovations to improve vegetable production and to inspire the youth to consider farming as a professional goal and be ambassadors of modern day agriculture.
“East-West Seed will continue to pursue ways on how to better equip Filipino vegetable farmers, inspire the youth to use their passion for technology in coming up with more innovative ideas for the farming sector and hopefully influence them to become the new breed of Filipino farmers,” Hermans adds.

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