DOST-backed technology platforms seek to increase incomes for smallholder farmers, MSMES – Manila Bulletin

Several technology platforms developed and supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have recently been introduced by the agency, each seeking to open up more livelihood opportunities and increase incomes for local smallholder farmers and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

John Gastanes (center), Farm Konek focuses on inventory management and technical support for clustered farmers that enables them to sell their produce more effectively. (Screenshot from DOSTv)

According to DOST, this requires social marketing and data analysis. He mentioned that despite the supply of fresh and quality agricultural products in the market, the incomes of our local farmers are suffering due to limited access to their customers.

Konek Farm

DOST said Farm Konek was developed by the Zacchaeus Project. It is an impact-driven, community-based farm management platform for inventory and management. It aims to create sustainable cluster production of high-value, lowland vegetables through data-driven, climate-proof cluster production among smallholder farmers living below the poverty line.

“If you look at the population of farmers in the Philippines, they are mostly small-scale farmers and we know there are marketing platforms that offer marketing services, but in reality it is not known that it is sustainable. production and inventory are very important,” said John Gastanes, general manager of the Zacchaeus project.

Gastanes also shared that there are many marketing opportunities provided by the government through a very strong marketing network like Kadiwa Marketing Services who buy directly from smallholder farmers.

However, Gastanes said one of the biggest concerns was the sustainability of production. He said most of the time we expect our farmers to send the data and upload it to the computer every time they harvest. But if we look at the food security supply chain ecosystem, we have to plan ahead.

Gastanes said that basically they offer these services to cluster farms that have at least one hectare of land and they have to commit 30% of their actual production.

He said Farm Konek’s main interventions are stock management and reporting system as well as capacity building, especially since many smallholder farmers are not yet familiar with climate change protocols and new production strategies.

Gastanes further shared that they started with a few associations ranging from 35 to 70 members in a barangay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Gastanes said they now have about 5,000,000 farmers in the Philippines and they aim to reach as many farmers as possible through the cluster system.

“If the government can work with young leaders like us, we will embrace it because I believe in proactive change in national transformation built through synergy,” Gastanes said.

OneStore City App

Meanwhile, is an e-commerce platform that helps Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to market their products online. The platform creates a borderless marketplace that allows MSMEs to sell their products to more customers; thus contributing indirectly to increased job creation and solving the problem of food insecurity in the country.

Surprisingly, due to the pandemic where the movement of people was restricted, the operation of intensified. Due to the lockdown, OneSTore walk-in transactions have certainly decreased, but the upside is that usage of the e-commerce platform has increased, which has translated into increased sales.

In response to this promising trend, DOST has launched OneSTore City, a delivery app for Android that has been designed and developed to provide a better and effortless shopping experience for consumers through digital means.

According to Verlyne O. Gorospe, DOST Region II Project Assistant III, OneSTore City is a same-day delivery application created and developed for fresh and major agricultural commodities. She said that once they partner with the Ministry of Agriculture through its Kadiwa scheme, the initiative could boost sales for our local farmers.

She added that has partnered with several logistics companies such as J&T Express, Ninja Van and 2GO Express to meet the growing demand from online shoppers.