Rice farming highly depends on the environment. In the Philippines, extreme weather, low water availability, pest, and rice diseases can lead to food insecurity. Without proper technology to counter these challenges, rice farmers are likely to get low and unstable income. Furthermore, farmers in the Philippines have to face the gap between two harvest seasons. It has been a challenge for farmers to pay for ordinary living expenses and farm operation during the growing season.
The average age of farmers in the Philippines is 57. Most Filipinos do not like to go into agriculture because of the level of difficulty and the low income being associated with it. Even farmers want their children to receive quality education and get good job opportunities in the cities. Knowledge in agriculture through education is needed for farmers to manage their lands efficiently and in doing so, can encourage the young generation to go into farming.
RiceUp is a social enterprise founded by Filipino students at Brigham Young University - Hawaii to help farmers in the Philippines. They aim to help improve the livelihood of Filipino farmers and to help regenerate agriculture in the country by empowering them through trainings, helping them embrace innovative technology, and enriching their lives through integrated family farming.
The young social entrepreneurs behind RiceUp.
Photo from RiceUp
They have been an award-winning team, obtaining the championship crown of the 2018 Enactus USA competition and is competing for the world cup.
The over-all RiceUp team is composed of a management team of students and an on-site team in Pampanga. They became a legal organization on April 2017.
What RiceUp does
RiceUp worked with Upward Bound Business School in the U.S to set up the RiceUp school. In the school, farmers learn how to grow their rice well, how to manage their money, and how to make farming a business. RiceUp school is not only a place for farmers to learn farm management. It is also an avenue for them to reach out to and speak with other farmers. They are able share their experiences and find solutions to their challenges together.
Resources are used efficiently with the help from teachers in RiceUp school. Farmers are taught to grow a variety of crops and vegetables so they can earn on months when their rice fields are still growing. With this, they can gain extra income for farm operations and other family expenses like their children’s education.
Farmer happily harvesting her fruits.
Photo from RiceUp
Financially, RiceUp partnered with Cropital—a crowdfunding platform that provides micro-loans for farmers with a small interest. When farmers need money, they can get reasonable loans from RiceUp.
RiceUp hopes that through their efforts, Filipino farmers will learn how to successfully develop themselves and the sector which gave them their livelihood.