Countering crop viruses with technology

Rosita Garcia Capin was only 19 years old when she started growing rice in her family’s field in Pacalag, a village in San Miguel in Bulacan, the Philippines.

Despite her wealth of knowledge and experience in the field, she was perplexed when she could not diagnose the infectious virus that was spreading among her crops.

“I suspected that the virus was caused by the weather and climate change, but I couldn’t be sure what kind of virus it was, or what pesticides to use as well,” explained Rosita.

She found herself having to constantly rely on her fellow neighbours and retailers for advice. But no matter what their recommendations were, it failed to work on her farm.


Asia Pacific’s agricultural industry is not only a significant economic powerhouse that sustains the livelihoods of more than 400 million people, but farmers like Rosita, are also the bedrock of the region’s food security.  The population in Asia Pacific is set to reach 5.2 billion by 2050, and farmers are expected to meet the challenge of producing sufficient food for the region.  But climate change and its erratic weather patterns are making it increasingly difficult to make this a reality. 

For Rosita, whose profits suffered due to the mysterious plant virus, the pressure to protect her crops remain at an all-time high.  This is why Syngenta has decided to step in. As a global leader in agtech solutions, Syngenta constantly invests in new digital solutions and platforms so farmers can easily access agronomy advice and crop protection products at their fingertips. With these solutions, farmers can improve their productivity, and together with Syngenta, contribute to a more food secure future for all of us.

“Digital innovation has such a great capacity to transform the lives of farmers. As smartphone penetration rapidly increases, especially in rural areas, digital solutions have the potential to reach even more farmers and improve the way they farm and feed us,” said Chris Chen, Head of Digital Transformation, Syngenta Asia Pacific.

Additionally, we are also investing in research and development capabilities to bring new products into the market, so farmers can connect directly to the market and increase their profits and contribute to food security, while improving productivity and sustainability.


Technology can make our lives easier, and here’s an example of how it could massively benefit the lives of farmers in Asia Pacific. Syngenta, a specialist in seeds and crop protection, released the Tiwala app in 2019 to help farmers get fast access to reliable agronomy information, Syngenta products and market prices of produce.

Rosita has benefitted tremendously from the app. Its pest map feature helped her to not only identify the virus, but also increased her knowledge and understanding of pests and disease information. For example, the common pests to watch out for including rice bugs and brown plant hoppers. More importantly, she could easily receive advice from the technical experts on crop agronomy, and products suited to eliminate certain viruses and diseases.

She’s also enjoying her independence. “I like that I can be more self-reliant when it comes to identifying the virus or disease that is affecting my crops,” said Rosita, adding that she no longer needs to depend solely on other farmers and retailers for advice. Rosita has also seen the benefits of the one-stop farming solution that is effective in increasing her crop outputs. In addition, she has managed to save on costs thanks to the app’s reward system.

Since its launch in the Philippines in 2019, Tiwala has benefitted many farmers across the country.  But it is just one in Syngenta’s portfolio of digital solutions for growers.
In India, the Anantham app is helping farmers seek agronomy advice, find their nearest retailer and access pricing information on Syngenta’s products. To date, there are nearly 300,000 Anantham users in India. While in Thailand, where the Fall Armyworm is a threat, Syngenta’s Grower Console connects farmers to timely and accurate solutions to manage pests and diseases.

But beyond mobile apps, more needs to be done to ensure that other digital tools such as big data and the Internet of Things are also easily accessible to smallholder farmers like Rosita, to ensure that they reap the benefits that new technologies bring to agriculture.


“I’ve not only witnessed a stark increase in my crop outputs, but I’ve also gained more knowledge about growing my crops in a more sustainable and efficient way. I will invest in digital products that help me and I look forward to knowing what’s next,” shared Rosita