By Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo

The agricultural supply chain must be shortened, consolidated, and modernized, said agritech (agricultural technology) startup entrepreneurs.  

“Every time there’s a drop or any handling, you have to peel away the layers, and then that becomes waste… If you shorten the supply chain, you can greatly reduce your waste,” said Pierre Curay, co-founder and CEO of software-as-a-service provider InsightSCS, during a webinar on making local farming “pandemic-proof.”

In the Philippines, the agricultural system is fraught with middlemen, whose services increase the cost of produce. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 14% of food is lost before it reaches the retail level.

Optimizing the supply chain entails collaboration and data consolidation among stakeholders, including farmers, traders, consolidation hubs, and logistics providers. Mr. Curay cited the supply chains in the fast-moving consumer goods sector as a model for agriculture.

“Everybody shares information. We know, at each point of the supply, when it will arrive, when it will get delivered, and when it’s going to be manufactured. That’s something that we need to have,” he said.

Entrepreneurs can modernize parts of the system through e-commerce channels that allow customers to buy produce, without having to leave their homes. 

“You could have your produce delivered within 30 minutes,” Joshua Aragon, founder and chief executive officer of Zagana, a platform that delivers produce door-to-door from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Agritech entrepreneurs Like Mr. Aragon are asking help from the government to collate and digitize relevant data, such as the consumption rates for different areas.

“Even if my company moved around 420 tons of goods in the past three months, that’s just a fraction of the consumption data that’s actually needed to drive production. There has to be some way so that we can go micro in terms of each barangay… just so we actually forecast what’s needed for every city and every barangay in this country,” said Henry James Sison, founder and chief farming officer of Agro Digital PH, an enterprise resource planning utility and service for organized farmers.