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Smart livelihood programs boost farmers, coops in 2021

PLDT’s wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart)’s sustainable livelihood initiatives for the agriculture and cooperative sectors have benefited more than 6,500 farmers and over 80 cooperatives nationwide in 2021 via the Buy Local, Digital Farmers Program (DFP), and Smart Coops programs.

Championing corporate RICEponsibility, Smart’s Buy Local campaign is a farm-to-market initiative ensuring small-scale farmers access to capital funding and guaranteed markets, including PLDT and Smart’s employees, partner companies with rice subsidy programs, and the general public.

As of end 2021, BuyLocal generated PhP8 million in gross sales for 4,208 farmers and has raised more than Php 330,000 for the farmers’ sustainability fund as capital support for 72 farmers. Crops purchased from 14 farming communities in Luzon were donated by PLDT and Smart and its employees and partners to community pantries, relief operations, and to vulnerable families through a community-based feeding program in partnership with Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and Philippine Business for Social Progress. BuyLocal enabled vegetable farmers struggling with oversupply to sell their surplus to employees and companies and provided additional income opportunities to marginalized groups such as an Aeta community from Zambales and a group of women seamstresses in Quezon City.

“Ako po’y nasisiyahan at lalong ginaganahan dahil po kinakampanya ng Buy Local ng Smart ang aming mga produkto,” said Patricio Castillo, a rice farmer from Balungao, Pangasinan.

To contribute to the government’s goal of increasing livelihood opportunities of farmers and helping improve the competitiveness of coops through technology, Smart continued its rollout of DFP trainings in partnership with the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to train farmers on smartphone basics, internet use, social media marketing, e-commerce transactions, and basics of digital wallet apps like PayMaya. Through its Smart Coops program, Smart introduces a suite of digital solutions and additional income opportunities to its partner cooperatives nationwide.

With over 100 digital literacy training sessions conducted in 2021, Smart trained over 4,000 participants, including over 2,100 farmers and youth, 2,100 coop members, and around 100 agri-extension workers. Smart also recently closed two partnerships with Aboitiz Foundation and financial services firm Sun Life Philippines for Smart Coops.

“As we implement the whole-of-nation approach in the sector, this collaboration with Smart is truly instrumental in ensuring that our farmers and fishers are adaptive to the changing times. There is no more denying that we are really going digital, and we must, in all our capacity, assist our farmers and fishers in such change,” said Dr. Rosana P. Mula, OIC of DA-ATI.

These initiatives to empower Filipino farmers and cooperatives through technology are part of the PLDT Group’s long-standing commitment to help attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 1 – No Poverty and Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. 

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