A farmer beneficiary will earn from his toil while providing food for the rest of us through the Farm-to-Table program of the BPI Foundation.
Thanks to the Coronavirus, the state of agriculture and food security in the Philippines may take a turn for the worse, unless we do something.
Prior to the pandemic, Filipino farmers already had a hard time selling their produce. The lockdown further exacerbated their situation.
“Food security is a major concern these days. The unimpeded supply of farm produce is essential in feeding our population. But farmers are having difficulty finding a market for their products given the lockdown restrictions and the rising costs of getting their produce to the consumers,” said BPI Foundation Executive Director Owen Cammayo.
For this reason, the BPI Foundation—the social responsibility arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)—created the Farm-to-Table program, which will help the agriculture sector to enable farmers to improve food and nutrition, boost agricultural productivity and production, and ensure efficient supply chains during these uncertain times.
“Our aim is to employ a more holistic approach to ensure we have enough supply of food for all Filipinos, especially those in the poorest communities,” he added.
In collaboration with RiceUp—an agritech social enterprise that helps farmers to directly connect with consumers—the program’s initial goal is to engage with over 1,200 farmers and to increase their income by as much as 400 percent.
To achieve this, RiceUp acts as a middleman and directly purchases farmers’ crops for a relatively higher price compared to the traditional middleman traders. This way, beneficiaries of the program are given the opportunity to cut down trading cost and earn more.
“With this collaboration, we help address the socio-economic issues as well as the aggravating impact of COVID-19 that pose a threat to food security especially for people in the agriculture sector,”Mr. Cammayo said.
The Farm-to-Table program provides farmers with sustainable livelihood opportunities to maximize their land potential and boost their knowledge and agripreneurship skills through farm schools. It also assists farmers to become members of farm cooperatives so they can have access to capital with low-interest rates, enabling them to save more and invest in innovative technologies.
Digital market and farming
During these challenging times, BPI Foundation and RiceUp are helping farmers sell their produce by developing a mobile app that serves as an online marketplace where consumers can order directly from the farmers.
“The local food production and supply chains were heavily disrupted due to various quarantine guidelines and protocols that restricted transportation and mobility, thereby threatening food security for all people and distressing farmers from low-income communities. Through this mobile app, we hope to meet the demands of the market,” explained Mr. Cammayo.
BPI Foundation, in partnership with Green Earth Heritage Foundation Inc., also helped bring innovations in farming by providing agricultural infrastructure and technological support, including rainwater harvesting tanks and a greenhouse for more than 30 farming families in Bulacan.
The initiative allows farmers to extensively study harvest-and-yield in different seasons to help them determine their production capacity and meet the demands of the market.
All these are part of the Foundation’s focus on sustainable positive social change through environmental sustainability, where programs address rainforestation, climate risks, and food security. Initiatives under food security are meant to empower farmers through education, entrepreneurship, and innovation through the use of sustainable and climate-adaptive technologies that help them become steady producers of agricultural products.
Moving forward together
BPI Foundation has set up a donation campaign to raise funds to provide long-term, sustainable farming solutions for low-income urban and rural communities. The project aims to provide food houses using the Food Shed Farming Enterprise System to address food security and help at least 600 families to adapt and become more resilient in the “new normal”.
This initiative is done in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature - Philippines (WWF-Philippines), an organization that works in the conservation and preservation of the environment and the improvement of Filipino lives by crafting solutions to climate change, providing sustainable livelihood programs, and protecting the country's richest marine and land habitats.
BPI Foundation aims to initially raise P5 million through the donation drive to build 20 food houses. The funds that will be raised shall be turned over to WWF Philippines.
“The project seeks to help low-income communities, especially those who do not have direct access to agricultural land. Through the food shed farming system, we aim not just to improve access to food for our beneficiary communities, but also increase their capacity to use the food shed, and ensure that they are financially resilient through financial education,” said Mr. Cammayo.
The Food Shed Farming Enterprise System is a compact, protective, regenerative, and diversified food production system that adopts natural and climate-smart farming technologies and practices to produce quality and healthy food products.