THE Aboitiz Group said it built a modular cold storage facility in Benguet, where it is piloting its Fresh Depot storage and digitalization project targeted at smallholder farmers.
In a statement on Thursday, the company said the facility was built in Mankayan, northeast of Baguio.
Aboitiz said it saw a gap in the market for affordable cold storage conveniently located for producers, adding that most cold storage has been built near urban areas, with many of them specializing in meat and other frozen products.
Benguet is the center of Luzon’s fresh vegetable industry.
“These conventional, energy-guzzling cold storage facilities are not built for farmers, who need farm-level and affordable cooling facilities for their crops,” Aboitiz said.
The company worked with Benguet province, the regional office of the Department of Agriculture, and the Manpat-a Farmers’ Association in setting up its facility.
The Fresh Depot project hopes to help farmers digitalize their land preparation, planting, pre-harvest, and harvest operations, while giving them access to market information. The company will then offer its database which the government can utilize for its agricultural programs.
International agri-tech companies Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd. and Cropin Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd. also collaborated in the project.
Ecozen builds hybrid cold storage units powered by solar energy while Cropin offers cloud services for agriculture.
“Fresh Depot aims to transform the lives of our farmers by offering a platform that optimizes their yield and income while reducing waste, making a significant contribution to our country’s food security,” Aboitiz President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz was quoted as saying.
According to the company, a second pilot location will be selected in the next weeks. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera