Wednesday, March 1, 2023 - 10:37


Andie: Digital Farmer in the Making

Andres Agustin was all smiles when we arrived at his farm at Alfonso Castañeda, Nueva Vizcaya. Upon entering his farm, we immediately saw the crops that he planted which are due to be sold in the coming months.

A farmer for 40 years, Andres spent most of his time cultivating the land that he owns into a successful and profitable farm. While he started from applying traditional farming practices, his son, who was a Bachelor in Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate but share the same interests as him in farming, assisted him in transforming his farming techniques digitally. He gradually learns to become a digital farmer.



Prior to becoming a full-time farmer, Andres was a photographer. Andres, or nicknamed as “Andie”, was born and raised in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija.

His passion for photography, that started at age 17, brought him to Alfonso Castañeda and became part of the National Irrigation Administration’s project in the area. He spent eight years as a photographer who takes photos for the project.

Fond of reading agriculture magazines and newsletters, he would read success stories of farmers on how they succeeded in farming. This motivated him to venture also in farming and awaken a dream to be one of the many who were featured in newsletters and magazines.

“Nakitak nga napintas ti future na [ti agrikultura],” he said. (The future of agriculture is bright.)

Raised by a police officer and a housewife, Andie started his journey as a farmer with no prior experience in farming but has his passion in agriculture. At 30, he left his high-paying job and used the money that he saved to buy agricultural land. He decided to settle in Alfonso Castañeda. Then for the next 40 years, he learned to become a farmer.

Andie has been managing over 20 hectares of agricultural land now.



Starting from scratch was not an easy job for Andie. With nothing to support his family of seven but the farm, he had to make it work.

He started cultivating the farm and planted crops such as palay, hybrid corn, squash, beans, and eggplant as first crops. Today, he plants various varieties of Sili, dwarf Coconut, and Calamansi trees which are in demand in the market. He applied what he knew about farming. Over a period of time, the farm expanded and improved into a nine-hectare farm area.

However, he recognized that what he knew was not enough. He must learn more. Hence, Zaldy, one of his sons, assisted him. Zaldy introduced him to various apps and websites that he may visit to research about modern farming practices.

As he is now living in the digital age, 69-year-old Andie matched the pace of the advancement of technology; particularly in farming using a smartphone, and a smart and open mind.

“Agkitkita kami diay Google ken Youtube. Idi adda panggatangen [ti materyales], tuladen min [diay practice ken technology],” he shared. (We researched through Google and Youtube. When we have enough fund to buy materials, we adapt the practice and technology.)

Through the articles and videos that he saw, he capacitated himself to adapt modern farming. Andie started his own drip irrigation system which has been running for one and a half years already, and started organic farming practice. By applying the drip irrigation system in the farm, Andie saved 50% or over Php600 from the labor expenses in hiring four people to irrigate the crops for just a day. Through this, he saved his time, effort and money.

With the knowledge he acquired through the digital world, Andie is becoming one of the digital farmers.
His inclination to digital farming is in line with the objective of the Digital Farmers Program by the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center 02 (ATI-RTC 02), in partnership with Smart Communications, Inc. It conducts a training which aims to draw farmers into digital farming and help fellows like Andie who has interest in the benefits of digital farming.

“Agsaludsud ken Google nu awan ammuk, agrely nak idiay tatta,” Andres said, pertaining to the widely used search engine in the internet.

He uses his smartphone in researching. (I will ask Google when I don’t know something, then I will rely on its search results.)



Although Andie’s farm has been doing well so far, he knew that he needs formal training to further develop his farm. Given the opportunity to be linked with the Agricultural Training Institute, he did not let it pass. He applied for the certification of his farm to become a Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) during this time, and would become the first LSA to be ever certified in their locality. Consequently, this opened another door for Andie.

Alfonso Castañeda is located six hours away from ATI-RTC 02, but this did not falter Andie. He attended the 12-day Training of Trainers on Production of High-Quality Inbred Rice and Seeds, and Farm Mechanization on May 2022. As a result, he became more equipped on inbred rice production.

He wants to use his experiences in the farm and training, and knowledge on digital farming as backbone in the establishment of his learning site which is named Leszach Integrated Farm. He believes that through the learning site, more young and old farmers in their municipality will be trained and be equipped with the same knowledge that he now holds.

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