Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cyber ‘farming’online gets Venezuelans cash

Cyber ‘farming’online gets Venezuelans cash

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Zacary Egea speaks in front of the computer he normally uses to play the Plant Vs Undead video game in the Cuaricuao neighbourhood of the Libertador municipality of Caracas. AFP

Cyber ‘farming’online gets Venezuelans cash

Zacary Egea works two jobs as a motorcycle taxi driver and courier in economically crippled Venezuela. In his downtime, the 32-year-old plays an online game to earn extra money by amassing so-called non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

Egea is one of many Venezuelans to have turned to NFT gaming to augment their income as the country confronts its eighth year of recession and fourth of hyperinflation.

NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital collectibles, each with a certificate of authenticity created by the same blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrency. It cannot be forged or otherwise manipulated.

Egea plays the game Plant vs Undead, in which plants “grown” in an online garden battle zombie-like monsters. Players invest time in “watering” and otherwise caring for their plants – purchased with cryptocurrency.

Each plant is an NFT that can be sold for real-world money.

The former policeman made an initial investment of $300 earned through his more traditional jobs.

“What do I want to achieve with this? To save up for a house for my family,” said Egea, who shares an apartment with his mother in a poor Caracas suburb.

“It is a long-term project,” he said.

Sunflower and cabbages

Before starting, Egea opened a digital “wallet” with which to transfer his gains into real money.

He spent some money on upgrading his computer, then bought a digital sunflower and some cabbages for $80.

These he will farm until he can sell them to buy a digital tree, which, when mature, will be worth as much as $2,000.

In a notepad, Egea keeps a meticulous record of his farming activities and NFT price movements.

“At 6am, I get up for the game. During work hours, while waiting [for a client], I water the plants, check that there aren’t any crows” to eat them, he explained.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Egea, a former member of the Bolivarian National Police, shows a graph depicting the fluctuating values of cryptocurrencies while playing the Plants Vs Undead video game. AFP

One night, he said, he awoke in a panic that his plants had died.

“I got up and connected [to the gaming site], but everything was fine,” he laughed.

Enough to support a family

Plants vs Undead is currently the 18th most-visited website in Venezuela, according to Amazon’s Alexa index.

In 35th place is Axie Infinity, another NFT game that works on a similar principle but requires a higher initial investment of about $1,000.

“These gaming platforms in which participants can earn money have become, in hyperinflationary countries such as Venezuela, options for generating additional income . . . [by] playing for an hour, three, four a day,” said Venezuelan economist Aaron Olmos.

In this alternative economy, NFTs tend to start off at a relatively affordable price that grows at an attractive rate as more and more people get involved, he said, but warned the price can also drop and investments be lost.

One form of gaming that has gained in popularity is an investor paying someone else, often a teenager, to play on their behalf, generating income for a fee.

Axie Infinity, for example, can yield $400 or $500 a month for the hired player, enough “to support a family,” said Yerson Rivero, a crypto-investor and NFT gamer.

In Venezuela, the minimum wage for public service is $2.5 per month and the average salary about $50, while a basket of basic groceries for a family of five costs about $220.

Rivero and a group of friends “farm” out of a tiny office in the back of a mechanical workshop, where they water virtual plants day in, day out.

“Cryptocurrency is the future,” said Jesus Almerida, one of the group.

“I’ve decided that as soon as I have enough capital, I will . . . create a crypto wallet for each of my children . . . to pay for their university.”


  • First Cambodian woman graduates from Japan’s NDA military academy

    A few years ago, Meach Sithyka Jessica became the first-ever Cambodian woman to graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point, and since then her courage and determination has served as an inspiration for other Cambodian women. Similarly, Ly Chansocheata became the first Cambodian

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod