Gen. Santos City- Science Nation Tour goes south as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region 12's turn to show its milestones for the last six years.
DOST Regional Director Zenaida P. HR Laidan welcomed participants led by DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo inthe traditional muslim-inspired hospitality, capping the morning ceremony with traditional muslim dances and music at the KCC Mall, Gen. Santos City.
According to her, "Science Nation Tour is a national road show aimed at making science be felt by the average Filipino people down to the grassroots- to the last mile primarily thru massive promotion and expansion of programs, projects and services of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) throughout the country."
One of the notable programs of DOST in the south central Mindanao is its assistance to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP. The program provides technical and technological assistance to MSMEs to enable them to improve their production capabilities by infusing science and technology interventions.
Among the assistance provided by SETUP are equipment upgrades, food safety standards consultancies, production improvements, and product labeling.
"SETUP offers complete package of assistance to enhance the capability of our SMEs in the country," explains Dir. Laidan.
She added that for the last few years, DOST 12 has assisted 1,500 firms under SETUP that generated thousands of jobs. Most of these enterprises are on food manufacturing.
Mr. Fred Fredeluces of Greentropics Coffee Enterprise is one of DOST’s SETUP success stories.
Greentropics manufactures high quality arabica and civet coffee in the region. According to Mr. Fredeluces, his venture into the business was brought about by his immersion in the tribal communities, empowering them through various livelihood program. He said that during his initial runs, he was having problems with his productions due to the lack of better equipment to process the coffee beans. Consequently, the quality of the products suffered as his worn-out machine was not able to keep up with the production.
He then sought the assistance of DOST 12 and went through several trainings and seminars,Manufacturing Productivity Extension Program consultancies, product labeling, laboratory analyses, and plant layouts among others.
He was able to receive more than P900,000 in equipment upgrading includingmoisture tester, date stamper, automated coffee roaster, automatic filling machine, sorter and coffee grinding machine.
He said that through the DOST assistance, his production grew while the tribal community of B'laan that provides the raw coffee beans for his business was able to live a more decent life. Fredeluces buys coffee beans from the community at more than P3,000 per 100 kilos of coffee beans, a much higher price compared with P1,000 at same weight by former buyers.
In addition, he said that the families from the tribe are now able to have a complete meal everyday and are capable of sending their children to schools.
Secretary Montejo said that this is what DOST has achieved in the last six years. "We were able to create a science ecosystem in the country by which the needs of the Filipinos are provided by our local technologies."
To provide access to products like the Greentropics coffee, DOST formally launched its OneStore, the online store for DOST assisted products across the country.
DOST Onestore is a user friendly online store which houses hundreds of various products under SETUP such as food, food supplements, handy crafts, and personal accessories among others. It also has an integrated payment system that is safe for used by clients in and out of the country.
Through the Onestore, SETUP adopter SMEs can now reach and compete in the local and global markets.
In closing, Montejoshared that DOST will continue to bring technological solutions and innovations to the many pressing problems in the country even beyond 2016.