Magsasaka. In Tagalog, it simply means “farmer.” Yet this very term possessses a wealth of significance.
Farmers do more than working the soil and growing crops; they virtually feed the country. From the rice in your bowl to the piece of chicken on your plate, you can bet that at least one farmer had a hand in raising either of those from a seed or egg.
Sure, medicine, law, and engineering are all noble professions, and you’ll probably need a doctor, lawyer, and engineer at some point. However, we need farmers every day, at least three times a day even. Where else would our food come from?
Unfortunately, we haven’t really done well by our farmers. Despite producing our food, they are often the first to go hungry. Frequent typhoons, harmful legislation, and massive inequality have put many off this crucial profession, with many farmers encouraging their children to seek employment abroad instead.
A group of entrepreneurial students, on the other hand, could hold the key to changing this.
E-Magsasaka: Basic Principles and How It Works
Enter Aaron David, Gorby Dimalanta, EJ Tamayao, Jay Garcia, and Anjo Santos. They all studied at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) back in 2017, and developed a unique business concept at school. After their project won the East West Seed Innovation Olympics, they decided to pursue it full-time after graduation.
It’s called E-Magsasaka. Basically, it links farmers directly to buyers, thus cutting out middlemen and reducing costs.
The aptly-named online platform works like so:
Farmers log in to their e-magsasaka accounts.
They update their inventories and set their prices.
Institutional buyers place orders for produce on the platform.
E-Magsasaka coordinates with the farmers.
The harvest is sent on to the cooperatives.
Cooperatives carry out quality control and package the produce.
The E-Magsasaka team picks up and sorts out the produce.
The orders are delivered to their respective buyers.
Produce and Services on Offer
E-Magsasaka’s founders are currently working with five cooperatives in CALABARZON, with each one averaging a hundred individual farmers. The latter produce squash, ampalaya, eggplant, sitaw, and lettuce. They also grow herbs and fruits like papayas, avocados, and bananas.
As of this writing, the service delivers to selected areas, specifically Makati, Taguig, Pateros, Pasay, Manila, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Muntinlupa. Furthermore, they encourage minimum orders of Php400 to maximize both the buyer’s shipping fees and the farmers’ efforts.
E-Magsasaka doesn’t just aim to enable farmers to actually make money off their profitable crops. It’s also designed to make food-shopping more affordable and convenient for consumers.
Katrina Magat, one of the platform’s supporters, describes it as “…..perfect for people like me who don’t have the luxury of visiting a local market weekly. Produce are fresh & more affordable compared to the grocery. Major plus points for the zero waste packaging and of course, the inclusive growth of the farmers too! Hope they’ll offer garlic and onions soon.”
Lastly, the company does its part in reducing plastic pollution. For instance, they use banana leaves to wrap small, leafy vegetables, and each order comes in a woven basket or bayong, which customers can reuse on their next order.
Interested? E-Magsasaka is still in the beta development stage, but farmer cooperatives and institutional buyers may already pre-register. Check them out here for more details.