March 3, 2024
FRESH DEPOT — Aboitiz Group has launched the fresh depot project in Mankayan, Benguet recently, which involves piloting a modular and sustainable cold storage unit with the vision of helping farmers reduce post-harvest losses and maximize crop yield. Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas, DA-CAR  Technical Director for Operations Danilo Daguio, Mankayan Mayor Dario Banario, Manpat-A Farmers Association president Basilio Ngaseo Jr., Aboitiz Equity Ventures VP for Transformation Dea Franko Csuba, and Hedcor President and COO Rolando Pacquiao showed the first crates of vegetables to be stored in the unit. — Contributed photo

In line with its program to become the Philippines’ first techglomerate, the Aboitiz Group launched Fresh Depot, which seeks to become the first ever physical and digital solutions platform for farmers in the country.
Its first phase involves piloting a modular and sustainable cold storage unit in Mankayan, Benguet, with the vision of helping farmers reduce their post-harvest losses and maximize crop yield.
“Fresh Depot aims to transform the lives of farmers by offering a platform that optimizes their yield and income while reducing waste, making a significant contribution to our country’s food security,” said Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin Aboitiz.
“Uplifting the agricultural sector and our farmers is crucial to strengthening our food supply chain and reducing our reliance on imports. We see various opportunities to make an impact in this sector and this is just one of the many projects we’re working on,” he added.
According to a study by the Institute of Food Science and Technology of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, about 42 percent of locally grown produce goes bad before it can be eaten, and farmers, consumers, and other supply chain players are suffering for it.
In 2020, the Department of Agriculture underscored the need to establish more cold storage facilities in the country. This was echoed by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), highlighting that it can reduce post-harvest losses and improve farmers’ income.
In the Philippines, however, most cold storage facilities are located near urban areas and are used for storing meat and other frozen products. These conventional, energy-guzzling cold storages are not built for farmers, who need farm-level and affordable cooling facilities for their crops.
In addition to offering sustainable modular cold storage, Fresh Depot’s second phase will involve digitizing farmers’ land, and planting practices, pre-harvest, harvest, and market information. Digitization will allow Fresh Depot to offer advisory services, explore market linkage opportunities and financial inclusion programs, as well as build a database of information that the government can use for their agricultural programs.
This pilot, which will initially run for three to six months, will become a case study for this new type of enterprise, which Aboitiz hopes to scale up across other farm locations in the Philippines if proven viable. Ultimately, Fresh Depot is envisioned to assist the government in enabling millions of farmers.
Among those in attendance during its pilot launch in Mankayan were Benguet Gov. Melchor D. Diclas, Mankayan Mayor Dario Banario, Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Technical Director for Operations Danilo Daguio, Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal (NVAT) Chair James P. Estong, NVAT General Manager Gilbert Cumila, EcoZen Solutions President Ravindra Dolare, Hedcor President and Chief Operations Officer Rolando Pacquiao, and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Vice President for Transformation Dea Franko Csuba.
Aboitiz is planning to launch a second pilot location in the next few weeks.
Fresh Depot is working with Mankayan’s Manpat-A Farmers Association for its first pilot site of the cold storage unit. – Press release