Born to farmer parents in Bukidnon, 18-year-old Jamal Langcap has been helping his family make ends meet since he was very young. For years, he witnessed the struggles his parents and other farmers faced, including declining sales and changing weather patterns.   

Needing to find other means to increase his family’s income, Langcap joined the Digital Farmers Program (DFP) organized by PLDT, Smart, and the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute Region 10. Through the DFP, Langcap, along with other indigenous farmers in Kalilangan, learned basic photography skills and social media marketing.  

“Our produce sometimes end up unsold in the public markets, as we only relied on traditional selling. Thanks to the DFP, I learned that there is a much better platform to market our products and that is through social media,” said Langcap. 

Participants were also introduced to mobile applications that can be used in field area measurement and weather monitoring. “As farmers, we need to constantly monitor weather conditions. The weather tracker can help us determine which days or month to consider for planting,” added Langcap. 

Smart’s Mindanao Relations Head Judee Caroline Chaves said, “Motivated by PLDT and Smart’s core value of ‘malasakit’ or compassion, the DFP aims to equip farmers with the digital tools that can improve their yield and revenue. This also forms part of the group’s aim to promote digital inclusion, create livelihood opportunities and improve food security.”

During the DFP sessions, tech-savvy youth are paired with senior farmers to help them appreciate basic smartphone operations and agricultural applications. 65-year old Datu Emilio Silatan admits to having difficulties adapting to current technology. “The youth can help older farmers like me who know nothing about smartphones become more familiar with modern gadgets. I really asked for a copy of this DFP module since this will help me recall and absorb the lessons shared by the speakers,” he said. 

With the pandemic’s continued impact on the agriculture sector, IP youth leader and farmer Mara Dilayon encouraged fellow millennials to help support farmers in their community by promoting local products. “The youth have a big role to play in our community. The lessons we learned from the training will help our farmers overcome the challenges they face today,” said Dilayon. 

The DFP is aligned with the PLDT group’s commitment to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, particularly UNSDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.