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SEARCA digital agri project reshapes farming in Liliw

LILIW, Laguna—A digital platform under a joint project of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and AppGeese Inc., a socio-technoprise, has changed the way Liliw upland farmers market their harvests.

The farmers cultivated an array of vegetables, including cabbage, string beans, chayote, radish, and other crops suited to upland areas.

Before their involvement in the collaborative SEARCA project that began in 2020, Liliw farmers operated as individual entities. Despite belonging to the Liliw Upland Farmers Marketing Cooperative (LUFAMCO), the farmers sold their produce individually and restricted their market to the local vicinity.

When the project was introduced to them, the LUFAMCO members recognized the digital agriculture platform’s robust support structure and potential for market linkage. They thus seized the opportunity to use the platform and became an integral part of the project under the guidance of Ms. Eunice Decena, municipal agriculture officer.

Starting with 10 farmer members, the cooperative participated in a series of transformative activities, including field visits, training in packaging and sorting, and an introduction to digital marketing through the AgriEx application.

Marvin Felices emerged as the designated farmer coordinator, streamlining communication among members. Empowered by AgriEx, Felices gained real-time access to buyers, orders, and market demand, enabling him to guide fellow farmers in aligning their crops with market trends.

AppGeese facilitated seamless transactions, ensuring prompt produce pick-ups within a day and offering immediate payment through e-money transfer, surpassing prevailing market prices.

Over the past two years (2020-22), LUFAMCO conducted regular transactions through the digital platform. In doing so, they attracted attention from additional marketing partners, including the Kadiwa Market managed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Gawad Kalinga (GK), thereby expanding their market reach.

In a commendable move toward diversification, with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), LUFAMCO ventured into producing and selling their own organic fertilizer.

Moreover, the cooperative constructed a multipurpose building within the town proper and has been generating extra income through rentals.

Expressing gratitude for the transformative impact of the project, LUFAMCO President Enrico Arvesu said, “We are very thankful to be identified in this kind of project that helped us appreciate the importance of planning and consolidation of our produce to reach a wider market.”

“This opens more opportunities for our group, and online marketing gives us the opportunity to reach more customers beyond our local area. We truly saw our potential,” Arvesu further emphasized.

SEARCA Center Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said the SEARCA digital agriculture project with AppGeese in Liliw shows SEARCA’s commitment to seize opportunities that enhance the well-being of local farmers.

He added that the successful initiative has motivated the municipality to actively seek collaborations, with plans to extend their agricultural produce to broader markets to sustain the growth of the farming community.# (Leah Lyn D. Domingo, Public Relations Specialist, Partnerships Unit, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)

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