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As the pandemic shifted teenagers’ mindset to present themselves digitally through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok, Kyler Sy, a 17-year-old entrepreneur, thinks of a solution to improve the economic status of farming in the Philippines.
Sy started a farm-to-table social movement by opening a website community, Green Gulay. The project allows farmers from far-flung provinces to market their goods easily. The website became a platform for non-tech savvy farmers to sell their products online. In a country where its landscape prevents farmers from seamlessly delivering farm goods, Sy has bridged the gap between farmers and modern-day consumers. Green Gulay reaches out to the farmers and offers a platform where they can market their goods online. All of these efforts work towards serving every Filipino table fresh produce.
Kyler Sy’s drive to put forth Green Gulay started from his small farm
“The farm-to-table social movement really resonated with me. I had first-hand experience of enjoying the benefits of this ideology. My farm and my table are just a few meters away and I can clearly see the benefits it provides not only in knowing the source of my food but also on the effect it has on the environment. A farm-to-table framework allows you to know exactly which farm supplied the food and that it didn’t go through any store, market or third party along the way. Imagine the amount of carbon emissions eradicated by this approach. In addition to this, it helps small farms who have minimal access to markets where they are often left without a channel to sell their products. This makes small farms susceptible to unscrupulous traders and agents who squeeze them and stop them from getting fair compensation for their crops. Buying direct means farmers can get full share that is due to them”, Sy narrated.
Green Gulay’s growth
As of this date, Green Gulay has partnered with several farms from Baguio, Cavite, Taguig, Rizal, Bulacan and many other areas. All of these farms and communities are well-supported by Sy’s platform. The project has improved the economic status and business returns of these farmers. It even started a revolution among youth to patronize local organic products directly from farmers.
On what keeps Sy continue the movement on
What keeps Sy motivated despite the geographical challenges encountered is his passion to consume and serve natural produce. “I know it may seem quirky that I, a 17-year-old city boy, became engrossed with farming. However, I find seeing my plants grow very rewarding and ultimately amusing. Vertical farming allows you to organize multiple plants in a plastic drum. It is a time-and-space-saving type of farming practice. I personally plant simple produce like peppers and cherry tomatoes to ease my stress from online school and enjoy the ‘fruits of my labor,'” Sy added.
On bridging the gap of farmers and consumers
The idea came from Sy’s personal experience and thus nuanced understanding of the online marketplace status of farm produce.
“Despite the many benefits of a farm-to-table structure, I was surprised that there wasn’t any way to find sustainable fresh produce online without going to the market to source them. Basically, everything has a marketplace online, why should fresh produce be any different? Because of this, I decided to develop an online marketplace of fresh and sustainable produce for farmers to post their products and for consumers to find them directly. This is how http://www.greengulay.com started. The website is 100% free to use. It aims to help farmers wrestle pricing control back and help promote a more environmentally and socially sustainable food supply chain. I have contacted a few sustainable farms to post their products on the website and their response was extremely positive.”, Sy narrated the thought process of Green Gulay.
To ensure that consumers are dealing with authorized farmers and that the risk of online scam is lessened, Sy’s Green Gulay ensured a safety registration process of all partner farms. “I encourage everyone to check out the website and support our local farmers. On the other hand, if you are a small-scale sustainable farmer, please register and let consumers know about your great products. Let’s all become conscious where our food comes from and at the same time, be socially and environmentally responsible.”, Sy stressed.
Sy tries to manage the school demands and tight monitoring of Green Gulay’s daily progress
“Although the development of this website consumed lots of time during my summer break, I never had a more enjoyable summer,” Sy added. (/)