Unisys agri website wins WB grant
() - March 24, 2002 - 12:00am
A Unisys-powered agriculture website - www.b2pricenow.com – has won a grant worth $118,000 in the World Bank’s Development Marketplace 2001 competition.

The website, which allows farmers to trade their produce and check prevailing prices with text messaging, is the "E-Commerce for Farmers" initiative of local e-marketplace B2Bpricenow.com. It was chosen as one of the 30 winning entries from the original 2,400 proposals that were submitted to the World Bank’s Development Marketplace 2001 competition held last January in Washington, D. C.

The contest, whose objective was to create a marketplace of ideas that address development challenges, received more than 2,400 innovation proposals–an 85 percent increase from the previous year - from more than 122 countries. Due to the high number of submissions it had to go through a very competitive selection process, so that less than 10 percent reached the final round.

Edgardo Herbosa, CEO of B2Bpricenow.com, said his company and its partner Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) will use the endowment to buy high-tech hardware for cooperatives in the country’s rural areas.

"The judges noted two major reasons for giving us the grant: the project’s feature to allow farmers to check out the prices of agricultural products via their cell phones and the project is in practice while the rest of the entries were just proposals," said Herbosa.

Mobile phones are becoming more than popular than wireline phones in remote areas. The ability to send SMS to the trading site and verify true prices, Herbosa said, is important to farmers because it prevents them from being cheated by unscrupulous buyers and middlemen.

"As IT Partner of B2Bpricenow.com, Unisys has been fully supporting this project from the time of its inception until now that it has reached a major milestone. We are always in the belief that IT companies like ours, should help nation building through projects such as this one. We are very proud to be a part of this award-winning initiative and for being instrumental in bringing information technology to the farmers," said Gabriel Leiva, president and general manager, Unisys Philippines.

Herbosa said it also has conducted roadshows in 14 of the 21 major cities in the Philippines to educate farmers on the benefits of using information technology to monitor prices and buy and sell their produce.

As for B2Bpricenow.com’s own grant, it is actually slit into two — $68,039 for being part of the winning circle and $50,000 for "the InfoDev Award" it received as a special prize for making use of information technology as a tool. The money will come in batches and will only be released by the World Bank as each phase of the project is finished, Herbosa said.

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