Why agriculture deserves more attention from Iloilo startups

Agriculture is a gold mine of opportunities for startups, and founders are encouraged to figure out how they fit in or what they can offer to the industry, according to the executive director of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc.

Francis Gentoral, during a virtual session with startups at the ISAT-U Kwadra TBI, acknowledged agriculture as a key economic driver, considering how it statistically thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we look at the performance of each sector, only agriculture had a positive growth rate,” Gentoral told participants at the Kwadra Tekno 101 session titled “The Role of Tech Startups in Iloilo’s Economy.”

Tech startups can capitalize on various opportunities or work on several challenges in Iloilo, Gentoral said, among them:

  • Minimal improvement in agriculture performance
  • Infrastructure is central to unlocking economic growth
  • Underdeveloped Iloilo port
  • Absence of a startup ecosystem adopting innovation 
  • Tourism recovery needs to ramp up product and destination development

In Western Visayas, economic growth is mainly driven by the services (58.7%), industry (21.2%), and agriculture (19.9%) sectors. In terms of growth rate, the first two experienced a downturn while agriculture improved during the pandemic, the ILED official said. 

“To drive Iloilo’s economy and our regional economy, we have to transform agriculture,” said Gentoral.

But first, tech-enabled businesses must locate their position in the area or function where they can get – and provide – the best value.

Using “value chain analysis,” startups can identify the various functions, operators, and enablers of industry processes. According to Gentoral, this will allow them to position themselves based on their capacity.  

“It is very important in your product-market decision point to position yourself in a certain part of the industry where you will get the full profit and revenues [sic] that you can take advantage of,” he stressed.

You can view the full Kwadra Tekno 101 session here.

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