App enables farmers to sell products online

People today can order almost anything online: food, clothes, shoes, bags, books, music, movies, and other novelty items.  

Soon, people from anywhere in the Philippines or abroad can order via the Internet sacks of rice or fresh vegetables from farmers in Nueva Ecija.  This will be made possible through a mobile application developed by a group of Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) students of Wesleyan University in Cabanatuan City awarded top honors in the 11th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).

S-MART, short for Smart Market Assistance and Product Trading, is a mobile app that allows farmers to sell their agricultural products online.  Buyers can also compare prices from the sellers and calculate fuel costs based on the location of the supplier.

As the 2015 SWEEP grand champion, Team S-MART received a trophy and P500,000 in cash. An equivalent amount in grant was also given to Wesleyan University.

Ramon Isberto, head of Public Affairs at Smart, said the judges were unanimous in choosing S-MART as the winning entry. 

“There are several components in the judging. One is the technical side while the other side is business feasibility,” Isberto explained, adding that S-MART was both a good innovation and a smart business idea.

He also pointed out that S-MART was socially-valuable as it targeted a marginalized sector, the farmers.  Initially, the app will benefit farmers in Nueva Ecija, known as the Philippines’ rice granary, but the developers of the app said they will aim to reach out to other farmers later on.

“Technology is not the difficult part but getting technology to fit social realities and social needs,” added Isberto.

The SWEEP Awards is the Philippines’ biggest and longest-running technology competition. This is held annually since 2005 as part of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP), an industry-academe linkage with a network of 52 colleges and universities all over the country that aims to uplift engineering and IT education in the Philippines and help partner-schools produce industry-ready graduates.

Wesleyan University’s Team S-MART takes a photo with its prototype just before the final judging for the 11th SWEEP Awards.
Aside from Wesleyan University, the other big winners in the 2015 SWEEP Awards are the Smart IMAGE (Instant Multiple-option Assessor for General Examinations) of Bulacan State University, first runner-up; and the #Bayanihan entry of Batangas State University, second runner-up.

They received cash prizes of P200,000 and P100,000, respectively, with their schools also getting the same amount in grant.

Smart IMAGE is a mobile app for the fast checking of examination papers, specifically designed for a multiple choice type of test. Teachers just have to take a photo of the test paper and the app will determine the score of the student.

Meanwhile #Bayanihan is a cloud-based application for local government units (LGUs). It allows people to get business permits and other government documents via the Internet.

The theme of this year’s SWEEP Awards is “Building Cloud-based Technologies.” Cloud computing is a term for storing and accessing data through the Internet instead of a computer's hard drive. 

“SWEEP changes in the way the industry and technology changes. We accommodate more and more of what’s happening around us,” Isberto said, noting “the growing importance of cloud-based technologies.”

Moving forward, Isberto said they hope to see more programs or technologies related to big data especially as “data analytics is becoming more and more important.”  He also hopes that developers of new technologies will recognize the importance of having a good business model.

“We’re really encouraging technopreneurship. From the outset, we encourage them to come up with a viable commercial product or service.  Your technology can be great but if you can’t marry it with good business, it won’t be sustainable,” he added.

Also making it to the finals of this year’s SWEEP Awards are Smart I-PRINT of De La Salle Lipa; Smart A.S.S. (Aerial Surveillance System) of Bulacan State University; SENTINEL (Smart Emergency Necklace Triggering Internet-Enabled Locator) of Bulacan State University; Smart RESERVE of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila; AIDPH (a web and mobile-based app for Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Information System) of University of Cebu Main Campus; Constello of Ateneo de Manila University, and ALMS (Automated Landslide Monitoring System) of University of Southeastern Philippines./PR

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