The Aboitiz Group’s ‘Byaheng Digiskarte,’ an initiative to elevate and modernize farming in the country by helping farmers reach consumers through e-commerce, will soon be nourishing and feeding hungry Filipino children.
Aboitiz Foundation, in collaboration with MayaniPH (the country’s fastest growing agriculture e-commerce platform) and Save the Children (the world’s leading independent children’s organization), recently launched a donation campaign that would aid in alleviating hunger among children while creating a sustainable livelihood for farmers.
The donation campaign is centred on ‘nutritional boxes’ containing various fresh produce sourced from the farmers of Sinacbat Farmers Association in Bakun, Benguet. Each nutritional box will go straight to the Save The Children Philippines’ beneficiaries in areas initially identified, including Navotas and Samar.
The nutritional boxes, which are offered in ‘starter,’ ‘junior,’ or ‘family’ packs and only costs between Php50 to Php260, contain a wide variety of fresh vegetables from Benguet such as potato, bell pepper, cabbage, carrot, green peas, ginger, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and broccoli, among others.
Under the ‘Byaheng Digiskarte’ initiative, the farmers underwent a series of mentoring sessions to improve their digital skills. The program is divided into three tracks and supplemented with elective courses. The farmers were taught how to maximize the use of digital tools, primarily to help bring their produce to a wider market.
Aboitiz Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Maribeth Marasigan emphasized the importance of helping farmers become digitally literate and capable. “Many agri-based enterprises took the hardest brunt of the pandemic and those that are now taking small steps to recovery are struggling to adjust to the ‘contactless environment.’ Through digital technology, they find ways to bring their products to the market,” she explained.
Benguet-based AboitizPower subsidiary Hedcor spearheads the implementation and monitoring of ‘Byaheng Digiskarte’ in Bakun, Benguet and provides guidance to the farmer-beneficiaries.
“Hedcor helps showcase Benguet local produce through unhampered farm-to-market transactions especially to our Sinacbat farmers despite pandemic restrictions. We advance our host communities with sustainable projects, as we continue to keep the lights on with our clean and renewable energy,” said Rolando Pacquiao, Hedcor President and COO.
These enterprising individuals or whom they call “ma-digiskarte” overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic by using mobile phones, the internet, social media, and e-commerce platforms such as Mayani, which has been empowering and providing sustainable market access to over 23,000 smallholder farmers.
“Agriculture and the food we derive from it have always been at the centerpiece of the fight for hunger and malnutrition. We partnered with the Aboitiz Foundation and Save the Children Philippines out of this strong mission convergence,” said MayaniPH CEO and Co-Founder JT Solis.
Mayani onboards the Benguet farmers being assisted by the Aboitiz Foundation and the platform provides them a stable sales channel for their produce, while mobilizing shared communities to donate those vegetable boxes to Save the Children Philippines’ target areas. “This is really the power of partnership and platform in action,” he stressed.
Child rights advocate and Save the Children Philippines ambassador Liza Soberano said the COVID-19 has affected children in the poverty line more than ever. “There is nothing more heartbreaking than knowing that millions of Filipino children go to sleep hungry. We can all help change that. Even with just a small amount, you can help feed and nourish a hungry child; at the same time, help and honor the farmers who toil to bring food on our tables,” she said.
Other Save the Children Philippines ambassadors Ria Atayde, Katarina Rodriguez, and Xia Vigor also expressed support for the cause.
The nutritional boxes are available for purchase at mayani.ph/SaveTheChildren. The site also offers various vegetables for the buying public’s consumption, the proceeds of which will go straight to Benguet farmers.