BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

Agriculture goes beyond food. It is also a source of shelter, medicine, and other products that we use in our day-to-day lives. This is why agriculture is an integral part of many industries and many entrepreneurs are keen on the idea of circling their enterprise around farming and what it has to offer. 

This is why Gorby Dimalanta, one of the minds behind Bukid Fresh, created a retail service to provide consumers with farm-fresh produce. This concept originally started with the enterprise called E-Magsasaka. 

Dimalanta has a degree in food technology and is aware that the raw ingredients needed to make healthy meals should be fresh and free from chemical inputs. This is why he and his colleague, Aaron David, pursued a farm-to-table initiative that allows businesses to source produce directly from farmers for a fair price. 

E-Magsasaka was developed back when they were taking their graduate program in Master of Science in Innovation and Business at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). 

(Read about E-Magsasaka here

Although E-Magsasaka won several awards as a business project, the real world proved to be challenging. The company was forced to rebrand to Bukid Fresh because the business-to-business (B2B) model that it followed didn’t provide Dimalanta and his colleagues with a sustainable market since restaurants and other establishments prefer to source their products from already established names or brands. 

With Bukid Fresh, Dimalanta and his co-founder shifted to a retail model where they provided consumers with farm-fresh products. This way, Dimalanta shared that they could gain leverage in the market by catering to the public before moving on to larger institutions. 

But Dimalanta didn’t know that they would be facing a larger roadblock than just a fickle market. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the business faced high costs of transporting goods and marketing their brand, resulting in a low-profit margin. 

For now, BukidFresh has decided to cease its operations so the company can focus on regrouping to become more efficient in the future. And like the business-minded persons they are, Dimalanta and his colleagues are far from giving up on what they started. They just have to look for a new way to take on the market. 

He shared that they’re eyeing a retail and B2B approach when they start their operations again in the future. 

As they work on their new approach to conquer the market with their agribusiness, Dimalanta and his team share that they have learned a lot over the past few years of being in business that they now consider important factors that can help them win over the market in their next attempt. Here are some of them: 

Realizing the power of the market

When they started E-Magsasaka, Dimalanta and his colleagues didn’t expect the market to be rigid. Now they realize that to secure their success for their business, they have to consider their market first and how they can best establish themselves in it. 

According to Dimalanta, having a dedicated market no matter what can benefit a business because having a substantial volume in sales leads to profitability. 

“It’s important to know your market before you create a plan on how to penetrate it,” the co-founder of Bukid Fresh said. 

He added that agribusinesses should realize their demographic and define who it is that they want to reach with their products or service. And should the market be demand-driven, Dimalanta advises aspiring agripreneurs like himself to listen to these demands and find an innovative yet efficient way to meet them so that the consumers can consider them their go-to brand. 

Developing the right values 

But the market isn’t the only factor that contributes to an agribusiness’s success. Agripreneurs themselves need to have grit and perseverance to see their venture through.

“Grit and perseverance are important because it takes a while before you earn a profit from an agribusiness,” Dimalanta said. 

Another thing that agripreneurs could do to help their business define its market is by knowing their whys. It creates a more concrete vision of what an enterprise’s goal is as well as what it’s supposed to go through to achieve that. 

Lastly, Dimalanta said that every entrepreneur who’s looking to make it on their own in the market should not go in blind. And even though it’s an agri-centered business, entrepreneurs should know the ropes of how to do business to secure a sustainable market and eventually succeed. 

It has been rough sailing for Dimalanta and his team in the agribusiness industry. Yet despite all those factors that impeded Dimalanta and his team, they have no intentions of giving up what they started. And with the knowledge and experience that they’ve acquired along the way, they now have a better idea of what they’re getting themselves into. 

For every business to succeed, whether in agriculture or a different industry, it’s important to face challenges head-on and get back up to try again.