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3 agri ideas win top prizes in East-West Seed's Innovation Olympics

An e-commerce app that hopes to transform smallholder farmers to agripreneurs by connecting them to input suppliers and buyers of fresh produce. A solar powered multi-crop dryer for food processing, expected to boost market value of crops, increase farmers’ revenues and cut post-harvest loss. A prototype smart sensor for monitoring soil humidity and automating irrigation that allows farmers to read data and send commands by SMS or text messaging.

These were the top three innovative ideas that emerged as the big winners in last week’s East-West Seed (EWS) Innovation Olympics. Dubbed as the “hackathon” of agriculture, the EWS Innovation Olympics is a competition that challenges the next generation of leaders to develop new technologies to increase productivity of vegetable farmers.

The winning teams of EWS Innovation Olympics 2017: Agriviz (AIM), i-Agri Ventures, and Team Oppa with the East-West Seed team.

Team Agriviz of the the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) wants to create an agricultural e-commerce platform that aims to incorporate data analytics and disseminate information to improve the productivity and profitability of Filipino vegetable farmers. Their “e-magsasaka” business model converts farmers’ mindset to being market-driven rather than production-driven.

Team i-Agri Ventures of the University of the Philippines Los Banos effectively defended their innovative idea of a “multi-crop dryer” that hopes to significantly increase farmers’ revenue by increasing the market value of their crop and reducing post-harvest losses, especially during seasons of overproduction or low farmgate prices.

Team Oppa, also of UP Los Banos, came out with a technology that could increase the yield of farmers by as high as 87.5% using the very popular text messaging. Their contraption makes use of the weather, predicting rain pattern and effectively informs the farmers' farm information in 30 seconds which normally takes 2-3 hours.

Student teams pitch their technological solutions and business ideas to the panel of judges.

Teams Agriviz, i-Agri Ventures and Oppa bested out seven other student groups who vied for the top 3 positions and the honor of implementing their innovative ideas with an initial seed money of P150,000 (USD 3,000). For 3 months, they will implement their project in their selected farming community.

In January 2018, the team with the project that exemplified entrepreneurial innovation and made the most significant impact in their adopted farming community will be declared as the EWS Innovation Olympics Grand Champion and receive PhP 250,000 cash prize.

Growing Opportunities for Farmers and the Youth
East-West Seed, established in 1982 as the first integrated vegetable company here in the Philippines, celebrates its anniversary this year with the theme, “Growing Opportunities.”

“When my father, Dutch seedsman Simon Groot put up East-West Seed with Filipino seed trader, Benito Domingo, in 1982, in a humble 5-hectare lot in Lipa City, they had a common vision--to help smallholder farmers increase their income by providing high-quality seeds and training them on more productive and sustainable vegetable farming techniques,” said Maaike Groot, Public Affairs Manager of East-West Seed.
To date, East-West Seed has trained and enabled 46,782 smallholder farmers on proper vegetable farming techniques.

“Farmers represent the 2nd poorest sector in our country and it is so sad that because of this, our young people shy away from pursuing a career in agriculture. What people do not know is that vegetable farming is a lucrative profession and could be a key for our people to get out of poverty. But we need to address several challenges which we, at East-West Seed, continue to help,” adds Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc, Public Affairs Lead of East-West Seed.

The major challenge, Sayoc adds, is that farming practices in the country are outdated and majority of the farmers are yet to adopt modern techniques which makes farming labor intensive and unsustainable.

To help in addressing this, East-West Seed launched the Innovation Olympics this 2017 as part of their 35th Anniversary Celebration.

“Through the Innovation Olympics, we harness the minds of the youth to come up with their own innovative technological intervention. Students from different fields of knowledge 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,” said Martin Hinlo, Project Lead of Innovation Olympics.

Mark Relova, Group Lead for Learning and Employee Experience, added that Innovation Olympics started out as an idea to create a project founded on “learning and innovation,” which is one of the core values of East-West Seed.

That “idea” blossomed into a 4-day Innovation Week for the young innovators to perfect their technological ideas under the mentorship of experts and the eventual implementation of these bright ideas in select farming communities.

“At the end of the day, this all goes back to how East-West Seed as a company works for the continuous development of vegetable farming, one seed, one farmer at a time,” Relova said.
For more information:
East-West Seed
No. 50/1 Moo 2, Sainoi-Bang Bua
Thong Rd, Amphur Sainoi, Nonthaburi
T: +66 (02) 831 7700
F: +66 (02) 923 7794
[email protected]
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