Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella  Alabastro went around Central Luzon recently to check on the progress and possible productivity enhancement needs of mostly community based enterprises that previously received assistance under the flagship Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP.

      Alabastro visited 14 projects in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac last March 26-28. Business owners generally had positive feedback on how SETUP assistance raised productivity, product quality, and created job opportunities.

In photo:

Top: Sec. Alabastro asks cooperative members and officers in Brgy. Cangatba, Porac, Pampanga how DOST’s SETUP helped them in their cassava production and processing project. DOST provided granulator/chipper machine (in photo), flat-bed dryer, technical support, and consultancy services.

Middle: Carreon’s Sweets and Pastries manager, Francis Carreon, offers some of his products to Sec. Alabastro for a taste-test. He also showed how DOST improved his product’s packaging.

Bottom: Sec. Alabastro asks Catherine Mallari the rudiments of making durable furniture out of scrap materials. DOST provided Mallari’s Nursery Furniture in Lubao, Pampanga, known for its hard-wearing baby cribs, several woodworking equipment valued close to a million pesos.

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Making technology work

 Mayor Edgardo Felipe of Anao town in Tarlac said that the ylang-ylang oil extractor prototype designed by experts at DOST’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute has increased net profit by P1,300 per batch of ylang-ylang flowers processed by the cooperative that produces the prized essential oil.  The extractor also drove down fuel and water costs, made loading of flowers easier and safer, and increased oil yield.
      Ylang-ylang (pronounced ee-lang ee-lang) is a medium to large sized tree that bears yellow flowers with long trailing petals and strong fragrance.
      DOST’s assistance covered packaging and labeling design, marketing, and training. The high-quality essential oil has dabbed a growing popularity for this once sleepy town.
      Anao’s ylang-ylang oil passed the rigorous quality standards of the Plant Resources of Southeast Asia (PROSEA), and the Netherlands-based Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) that made it much-sought after by importers and exporters in Canada, Germany, and USA.
      Because of its commercial success, ylang-ylang is designated a key product of the town and under the government’s One Town One Product (OTOP) program.  “Even children now pick ylang-ylang flowers in their backyards and bring them to our center, and we pay them,” he says.
      The town’s venture into ylang-ylang essential oil industry nipped the 1997 Likas-Yaman National Awards for Best Local Government Unit-Initiated Project for Environmental Excellence. Anao received other awards like the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran, Gawad Kasanayan-Kabuhayan, among others.

     Meanwhile, Alabastro noted that Anao still has problems with residuals (plastic, leather, foam) as its waste management program only focused on organic wastes.  To manage the residuals effectively, she recommended a technology developed by DOST’s Industrial Technology Development Institute that uses residuals as materials for hollow blocks. This can rid residuals, create livelihood, and generate income for the town.
      Meanwhile, in Porac, Pampanga, the federation of multi-purpose cooperatives sees a bright future for technology-enhanced production and processing of cassava. Ravaged by lahar almost two decades ago, the town is steadily rising from the ashes.
      And the ashlands  in Porac now appear to be fertile ground for growing cassava, the town’s leading product and OTOP bet. “Hindi na bibitawan ang cassava dito,” says Domingo Turno, chair of the Porac Multi Purpose Cooperative. “Ang kita kasi ng farmers ay mula P50,000 hanggang P60,000 isang buwan.” (Famers in Porac will stick to cassava. We are making P50,000 to P60,000 a month out of cassava).
      Porac Mayor Dr. Rogelio Santos himself expressed confidence that the cooperatives can hit their targets through DOST’s technology based interventions. “We hope for continuous partnership with DOST,” he told Alabastro.

Filling the gaps

Technology has evidently enhanced the SMEs’ productivity, but there are still gaps that DOST continues to address.
      In San Jose, Tarlac for example, furniture maker Samuel Tababa found that operating DOST’s furnace type lumber dryer with a 3,000 board feet capacity improved wood drying quality. But it also bolted up electricity bills. In consultation with Sec. Alabastro, Tababa was advised to consider using sawdust as alternative energy source. He was referred to FPRDI’s Medardo Centeno to check on its viability based on his specific need.
      Moreover, the DOST team noted Tababa’s penchant for crafting devices and recommended the right steps to improve his designs. Dominic Guevarra of DOST’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center’s also made suggestions to maximize operation of the facility.
      So far, DOST has awarded more than P2.8 million for seven new SETUP projects in Region 3 last year, Assistant Sec. Carol Yorobe, who is also SETUP manager said.
      DOST aims to implement 33 projects in the region this year.

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