In celebration of the National Farmers and Fisherfolk Month this May, PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) recently piloted the #FarmSmart Farm program in Santa Cruz, Occidental Mindoro in partnership with social agri-enterprise Farmvocacy.
“In our mission to help improve the livelihood of Filipino farmers, PLDT and Smart are also committed to promoting sustainable farming practices. The #FarmSmart Farm program fits perfectly in our organization as we further embed sustainability in our core business and corporate shared value programs,” said Stephanie Orlino, Assistant Vice President and Head of Stakeholder Management at Smart.
In line with the PLDT group’s sustainability agenda, #FarmSmart Farm aims to increase the income of small-holder farmers by creating a climate-smart farming ecosystem where rice growers use environment-friendly inputs to boost their produce while preventing damage to nature.
“Technology has allowed us to fight pests and diseases without harming beneficial microorganisms. In 3-5 years, we will see our farmers use the internet in their daily activities,” said Vincent Roy Mendoza, Founder and CEO of Farmvocacy.
Under the program, PLDT and Smart will sponsor partner rice growers’ farm inputs, which include organic fertilizers, farm machineries, and other items, saving them from high-interest loans.
Fifty-three-year-old Romulo Halili of Barangay Kurtingan can attest to the benefits of environment-friendly materials, “Organic fertilizers not only help ensure a bountiful harvest, they also prevent soil damage which helps sustain good yield in succeeding planting seasons.”
PLDT and Smart also provided Farmvocacy access to the Smart Infocast platform which they will use to quickly send out information and instructions to farmers.
One key activity under the program is a field experiment showing rice growers that sustainable materials and practices aided by timely reminders via Smart Infocast will result in a more abundant harvest.
PLDT, Smart and Farmvocacy have teamed up with the Philippine Rice Research Institute, Occidental Mindoro State College, Enviro Scope Synergy Inc., and the local government unit of Santa Cruz through the Municipal Agriculture Office to guide farmers throughout the project.
Come harvest season, PLDT and Smart will connect beneficiaries directly with consumers through the Buy Local initiative, eliminating the need for middlemen and ensuring fair market price for their goods.
The #FarmSmart Farm initiative emphasizes the PLDT group’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, UNSDG 2 on Zero Hunger, and UNSDG 3 on Good Health and Well-Being.