USTP conducts 2nd Bamboost App user testing, two tech training sessions in PH bamboo capital

By Farah Y. Sevilla, Juliette C. Virgula & Analiza C. Diaz

The University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) Cagayan de Oro conducted its second user testing of the Bamboost App among farmers in Maasin, Iloilo, the country’s bamboo capital, on July 20, 2022, at the MDRMC Operations Hall of the Municipality of Maasin. The user testing was followed by two training sessions for farmers, particularly on value addition and development of online saleable bamboo products, led by Engr. Jovito A. Elec of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FPRDI).

Maasin Sangguniang Bayan/Municipal Council Member Keziah Villareal represented Mayor Francis Amboy and welcomed the participants and co-organizers of the event, including the USTP CDO, DOST-FPRDI, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), Coastal Resources and Ecotourism Research Development and Extension Center of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (CRERDEC-ERDB), and members of the KAPAWA-Maasin People’s Organization.

Ms. Villareal said: “The Bamboost app can help uplift lives and livelihoods and make bamboo products saleable online, especially now that everything is possible with a click or two – you can buy something and sell something with a click or two.” She added that the LGU hopes that Bamboost can help in the progress of Maasin.

For his part, KAPAWA Chairperson Rubenie Castellanes shared that he is happy and thankful that Maasin, Iloilo is one of the sites chosen by the Bamboost team to conduct the user testing. The organization has existing bamboo products, but one bottleneck is the market outlet. He envisions the app as a gateway to promote their products in other countries and even beyond Asia.

The development of the Bamboost App – a mobile marketplace application for the sale or pre-sale of S&T-based bamboo products – and the conduct of capacity development activities for bamboo farmers are part of the outputs of the USTP CDO project titled “Mainstreaming of Bamboost App as an Online Marketing Platform of Bamboo Farmers in Select Science & Technology Community-Based Farms (Bamboost Project)” funded and supported by DOST-PCAARRD. Prof. Love Jhoye M. Raboy, Associate Professor at the USTP CDO Department of Information Technology, leads the project.

Dir. Noel Catibog of the Technology Transfer and Promotion Division (TTPD) of DOST-PCAARRD said that they are looking forward to the success of the project and its potential to increase farmers’ market access. He shared that the Bamboost App project supported by DOST-PCAARRD evolved from a thesis study of TTPD staff, Science Research Specialist Analiza C. Diaz, in 2020.

In her study, Diaz, also a co-project leader for Bamboost, explored the willingness of farmer-members of the KAPAWA-Maasin People’s Organization to use a mobile application to market their products. The research results showed that the farmer respondents were willing to adopt an app that would help them sell their products, which became the springboard for the development of the Bamboost Project currently implemented.

Twenty-six (26) farmers and members of Katilingban sang Pumuluyo nga naga-Atipan sa Watershed sang Maasin (KAPAWA-Maasin) and four (4) representatives from the LGU participated in the user testing and training. Many of the participants from KAPAWA were children of older members – the millennials – who are technology-savvy and in a position to assist their parents in learning about the Bamboost App and eventually in promoting and marketing their products.

Evelyn Medianero of KAPAWA-Maasin said: “This app provides us, bamboo farmers, an opportunity to upgrade and level up our market reach through digital technology, especially that everything is online. Our children, the younger generation, will have to help us learn to use the app.”

Carl Louie Mejares, son of a KAPAWA member, said: “I am excited (about) the launching of the Bamboost App so that Maasin farmers can benefit and promote Filipino bamboo products.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Jon Alfonso Horvidalla from CRERDEC-ERDB, who has been working with KAPAWA farmers since 2014, said that the Bamboost app addresses the gap in marketing products—a problem that they had observed from previous project initiatives in the area.

In the afternoon, Engr. Elec of DOST-FPRDI shared about developing decent quality bamboo products and reminded farmers about safety guidelines during processing. He also provided suggestions and examples for enhancing the bamboo products the organization is producing. The next training session focused on top online trending bamboo-based products. He featured new home improvement products and accessories, including tissue holders, sunglasses, and bamboo tumblers.

Engr. Elec concluded: “I hope for your successful production of new bamboo products and the selling of them through the mobile app.” He added that digital marketing is already the trend, and bamboo farmers can use digital platforms to promote their products.

In her closing message, Prof. Raboy thanked the participants and the resource persons for joining and the Maasin LGU officials for hosting the activity. She shared her enthusiasm that the Bamboost App will soon be able to serve its purpose for bamboo farmers and manufacturers. She concluded: “Your contribution to this activity counts a lot for Bamboost. We encourage you to await the launching and deployment of the Bamboost App so that bamboo products can reach the national and international markets. Bamboost is a technology in the palm of your hand. Let’s make use of it.”

The Bamboost App is a thesis output of Ms. Analiza C. Diaz during her master’s program at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand. The ongoing DOST-PCAARRD–USTP-CDO project will pursue the enhancement of the app towards its IP registration and mainstreaming among the bamboo community in the country.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Love Jhoye Raboy: [email protected]; 09175765074

Ms. Analiza C. Diaz: [email protected]; 09294998763