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From farm and ocean to table: Mayani’s vision for sustainable and profitable agri-fisheries

Inspired by the struggles of farmers like co-founder Ochie San Juan, the founding team at Mayani is addressing challenges including rural poverty

Photo courtesy of Mayani
Photo courtesy of Mayani

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own

Despite ongoing efforts to prioritize rural-led development in the Philippines, rural poverty persists at a rate of 39.4%, significantly exceeding the national average of 26.5% and standing at more than three times the rate seen in urban areas. Many of the rural Filipinos are farmers and fisherfolk who, although the life-blood of the country, receive minimal monetary rewards because of a lack of market access, post-harvest wastage, and climate vulnerability. 

Inspired by the struggles of farmers like co-founder Ochie San Juan, the founding team at Mayani is addressing these challenges. With their combined expertise in technology, e-commerce, and agriculture, they have created a proprietary technology solution and built strategic partnerships to uplift rural Filipino communities and to significantly contribute agricultural growth, profitability, and sustainability.  

The challenges to rural farmers and fisherfolk

CEO JT Solis explains that the barriers rural farmers face are finding fair and direct market access due to the presence of multiple intermediaries, “an estimated six-seven middlemen.” This lack of access not only drives up costs but also increases market-to-market carbon miles exacerbate environmental concerns and means less profit for the farmers and fisherpeople. 

He further explains that farmers struggle with inadequate access to climate-resilient agricultural inputs which hinders their ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions and protect their crops from climate-related risks. 

Filipino farmers and fisherfolk are also faced with difficulties in accessing agricultural credit. The financial exclusion limits their capacity to invest in modern techniques and technologies that could help them save time, get higher yields, manage their crops better, improve safety, be more eco-friendly, and increase profitability.

Mayani’s solutions

Mayani offers a comprehensive solution through its proprietary tech stack and end-to-end value chain platform. Solis explains, “The code is exclusive to us, and it’s scalable due to our robust tech infrastructure. Our tech stack integrates access to markets, inputs, and credit, which are typically separate value creation paths. By layering these functionalities, Mayani provides comprehensive support to farmers, enhancing their ability to thrive.” 

The Mayani Digital Value Chain Platform consolidates farm-level production data, optimizes distribution channels, and digitizes the entire agri-supply chain, ultimately, unlocking the $9B agri-fisheries output value and fostering sustainability in agriculture. “Our Mayani Agri-Inputs facilitate access to climate-resilient agricultural inputs which enables Filipino farmers to adopt more regenerative, climate-smart farming practices and improve productivity.”

Solis adds, “Apart from the tech piece, which affords us a competitive edge, on the supply side, we have a very strong network.” Mayani FarmDirect provides direct access and eliminates layers of middle-men, minimizing carbon output and food waste, thus optimizing the supply chain. “We have the biggest grassroots network of farmers and fishers, over 144,000, spread across seven regions of the archipelago nation. That speaks volumes on the vast potential of having this strong upstream base and how the larger we grow, the faster we grow as well. That is the network effect, and that allows us to have a very robust supply base.” 

On the demand B2B side, Solis explains, Mayani has developed key partnerships with large supermarket chains, hotel chains, restaurant chains, commissaries, and food processors. “Our ability to benefit from economies of scale allows us to distribute our costs over a larger volume of sales, resulting in a highly resilient business model.”

Quality standards and sustainability

To add to their holistic solution the Mayani team is also very focused and dedicated to maintaining quality standards. “High-quality inputs and outputs throughout the value chain are extremely important to us,” Solis asserts. “We are able to achieve this by employing licensed agriculturists and quality assurance (QA) specialists who possess expertise in soil conditioning, pest control, and organic farming. Our centralized sorting hub ensures rigorous quality control before distribution which guarantees top-notch products for our B2B partners. Our farmers also benefit from post-harvest logistical support which further enhances the quality of our offerings to them. With these measures, we uphold quality standards at scale, from input to output, ensuring customer satisfaction and trust in our products.”

Solis shares. “Consumer preferences for sustainably sourced agricultural products are reshaping the behavior of our local farmers. This trend influences both upstream and downstream activities in the agricultural value chain. Consequently, farmers and fishers are increasingly conscious of practices such as avoiding the use of harmful chemicals and adhering to marine protection policies to preserve ecosystems and meet consumer expectations for ethically sourced food products.” 

Solis adds that at Mayani, they will continually seek to implement consumer wants. “We must adapt to evolving consumer preferences. If consumers prioritize traceability, our platform must enhance transparency, trust, and data-driven traceability. We must ensure that our platform accommodates sustainable practices, such as setting limits on catch sizes to prevent the depletion of fish stocks in marine protected areas. And it includes providing detailed information on the origin of products, ensuring consumers can track the journey of their food from specific provinces to their tables.”

The impact and future of Mayani

Mayani sees their holistic solution as one that will make a genuine impact on all stakeholders and even the economy as a whole. “Imagine building an impact-driven agri-fisheries startup poised to drive meaningful change to rural Philippines. As we continue to scale, we envision Mayani becoming a substantial contributor to the agri-aqua economy, we expect to witness Mayani’s significant contribution to the agricultural sector’s share of the country’s GDP.”

Solis adds, “We want to touch the lives of all the many small farmers and fisherfolk across the Philippines. There’s 10 million of them in terms of an entire market universe. And that’s the vision.”

“If we can make farmers earn more, if we can make farming and fishing profitable, if we can make farming and fishing more data-driven, and if we can make our agri-food system more resilient, then I think we could really make a tangible impact.”To learn more about the Philippines’ fastest-growing, impact-driven agri-tech platform, Mayani, click here.

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Written By

Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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