September 25, 2020

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DOST’s tech initiatives to boost primary sectors and MSMEs in the Philippines

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture has been helping Western Visayas farmers, fisherfolk and agribusinesses in improving the packaging of their products.

The partnership aims to enhance the market competitiveness of agriculture and fishery products in Western Visayas region.

Department of Agriculture (DA-6) had provided Department of Science and Technology (DOST-6) with a PHP7.5 million funding support last month so it could provide assistance to at least 100 beneficiaries.

The partnership helps in the technical and aesthetic parts, the Department of Agriculture is responsible to identify beneficiaries.

The initiative works on the competitiveness of the businesses specifically in aesthetics, longer shelf life, better protection of the products, keeping the buyers informed of nutritional label and to better compete with imported products.

The training being provided is primarily aimed at Department of Agriculture field workers. For the enterprises, it is more on packaging design, material selection, labeling, actual product packaging for test marketing.

The funding is also being used to develop a technical manual for agri-fishery product packaging and capacity building of agribusiness enterprises, as well as the Department of Agriculture and local government personnel assisting farmers and fisherfolk.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will collaborate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Region 5 to help food processors in the region.

The three agencies signed a memorandum of agreement earlier this week for a collaborative project focused on facilitating the registration and compliance of food processing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the mandated food safety regulatory certifications and standards.

The DOST Region 5’s role in this collaborative project is to assist in capability development of DTI technical personnel through the conduct of training on Basic Food Hygiene and current Good Manufacturing Practices.

The DOST Region 5 will also provide analysis and testing, technical assistance on the evaluation of compliance to mandatory packaging and labeling requirements.

Dela Peña said that the DTI, for its part, will identify and evaluate target food processor beneficiaries, and will also determine products for testing, as well as the specific tests to be conducted.

The FDA, on the other hand, will conduct orientation to the beneficiaries regarding product registration and licensing. Dela Peña said the FDA would prioritize and provide a special lane for applicants endorsed by the DTI.

With regard to the food sector, the DOST has also partnered with the DTI and Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 11, to address issues in the cacao value chain.

Among the challenges in the cacao value chain are the technology support, marketing, land tenure system, institutional capacity for technical support, access to crop inputs, he said.

DOST will align its programmes and projects, such as the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Programme (SETUP), technology transfer training in cacao processing and food safety consultancy services, among other assisstance.

The DOST 11 already assisted two MSMEs in Davao del Norte who are into cacao processing through SETUP.

An enhanced version of the Department of Science and Technology’s SETUP Programme will be implemented before yearend.

SETUP is DOST’s programme that aims to encourage and assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in adopting technological innovations to improve their products and operations.

About 800 MSMEs can be accommodated in the SETUP programme in 2020, with a budget of around PHP 860 million (US$ 17.5 million). About PHP 900 million (US$ 18.4 million) is has been allocated for the SETUP programme in 2021.

DOST is transitioning to SETUP 4.0, to help MSMEs in digitalisation and automation part. They are enhancing the implementation of SETUP to align with the industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is defined as “the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the internet of things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing”.