Saturday, March 2, 2024

Startups from Mindanao, Nueva Vizcaya win in agri-hackathon

In an unexpected turn of events, Team AIRIN from Nueva Vizcaya State University (NVSU) and Project Angat from University of Mindanao (UM) both came out victorious in the recently concluded Innovation Olympics 2.0 (IO 2.0) grand finals.

Team AIRIN’s Automated Irrigation and Nutrient Management system and Project Angat’s vertical farming system made them the grand winners in the second year of the agri-hackathon.

The winning projects can help smallholder vegetable farmers increase their yields and incomes through the use of precision agriculture.

From 21 participating teams composed of undergraduate and graduate students from across the country, six finalists were selected by a panel of experts and judges. The finalists were all given P100,000 that they used as seed money for their months of actual testing and implementation of their technology solutions.

Team AIRIN developed an automated irrigation and nutrient management system that helps farmers minimize labor cost by only applying the right amount of fertilizer at the right time and in the right place.

With AIRIN, farmers get a solar-powered synergistic system with fully automated irrigation and fertigation systems that monitor farm status and send updates via text messaging. This allows vegetable farmers to better understand their farm conditions and respond with correct amendment solutions.

“At Team AIRIN, our effort comes from the love of the Filipino farmer community. Being sons and daughters of farmers, we know the challenges that they face and this is where our inspiration comes from. It is our passion and purpose to help improve the lives of farmers so they will never have to worry about putting food to the table,” said team member Myka Fragata. Her teammates are Jaime Hapicio and Maricel Farro.

Project ANGAT, on the other hand, created a farming system with three components – Malakas, an automated solar-powered vertical farming system made from Bamboo; Maganda, a waste soluble capsule with formulated organic waste materials that stimulate plant growth and protect against diseases; and Dumangan, an online platform that connects the farmers directly to consumers.

With their system, vegetable farming will become a lot more convenient and profitable by allowing farmers to access inputs and markets for their produce.

“Even if we faced a lot of problems during the Innovation Olympics, this is now our victory for Project Angat of Team Alipugpug Tech Solution. To all our fellow founders, we made it. Let us all continue in our journey in uplifting the lives of small-scale farmers and never stop planting the seeds of change,” said team member Elpidio Corbeta Jr.

Other members of their team are Daniel Navarro, Stephen Ponteras, John Taylaran, Kim Tomaro, and Dale Viñalon.

Both winners received P125,000 each as their grand prize to help them further develop their technology solutions and pursue their passion in helping smallholder vegetable farmers improve their lives.

“To our six grand finalists, congratulations. You all deserve recognition for making it this far. We sincerely admire your passion for innovation and your drive to make things happen. As your Innovation Olympic journey ends, a new journey in the real world will begin. We encourage you to keep your great perseverance and continue to further develop your projects. It’s been a great pleasure and honor at East-West Seed to support talented young innovators like you who share the same goal of empowering our farmers and transforming the agriculture industry,” shared Henk Hermans, general manager of East-West Seed Philippines and one of the competition’s judges.

Despite the pandemic, the organizers of the hackathon said the entries from IO 2.0 provide an optimistic future for the Philippines’ agriculture sector. The projects proved that leveraging technology and combining it with farming skills can provide greater results and improvement in the farming industry.

“To our crazy finalists who have crazy youthful ideas, you all hold the future of agriculture. May you continue to step up by taking on this challenge in helping our farmers despite the pandemic. May we never forget to put the human and social aspect in our innovations to help improve our agriculture industry,” said Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, firector of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and a member of the panel of judges.

Innovation Olympics 2.0 (IO 2.0) is a nationwide agri-hackathon that provides an avenue and opportunity for young Filipinos to develop and showcase innovative solutions that can help smallholder vegetable farmers. It was first launched in 2017 during East-West Seed’s 35th Anniversary Celebration.

On its second year, IO 2.0 was made possible by the collaboration among East-West Seed, SEARCA, Sensient Colors LLC, and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), through UPLB-Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (UPLB-TTBDO), UPLB Startup Innovation and Business Opportunity Linkaging Labs (SIBOL Labs), and APEX: The UPLB Business Network.

With the theme “Precision agriculture for small-scale vegetable farming”, IO 2.0 focused on finding new solutions that can help increase the profitability of smallholder farmers through efficient technologies in crop production.

The IO 2.0 culminated last October 15, 2021 through an online event with teams ARCHIE (Saint Louis University, University of the Cordilleras, Benguet State University, University of Baguio), BalZip (University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines), FarmJuan (Asian Institute of Management), and Chlomet (University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines) as the other finalists.


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