Dir. Celia B. Elumba on the Creative Economy particularly Textile

Dir. Celia B. Elumba, the Director of the Philippine Textile Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology was interviewed by MJ Balaguer at the recently concluded TELA 2021 regarding the plight of the Philippine Tropical Fabric.

DOST SHORES UP WATER SECURITY, LIVELIHOOD, NUTRITION,
AND ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION IN CONCEPCION, ROMBLON

By: Charlotte F. Pizarras, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office Mae Angelica Fabito- Famini, PSTC-Romblon
 With the newly installed solar-powered water pumping system with filtration and treatment facility, the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) intends to address water security and safety on the island of Concepcion in Romblon.

Concepcion, considered a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA), is the farthest island municipality in the province with nine barangays which has been suffering from limited access to safe and adequate water. The residents only rely on rainwater collected using basins and pails and deep wells powered by an electric pump as their water source, however, the operation is limited due to high electricity cost.

The solar energy system-powered water pump was provided to Brgy. Masadya, the poorest barangay in Concepcion, through the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology Program of DOST-MIMAROPA. Compared to other barangays, the residents in Masadya are only given two hours in the morning and another two in the afternoon to get the water their families’ lives depend on. Baranggay officials were forced to limit the water collection hours to avoid incurring high electricity costs. Each family is required to pay PhP 50.00 per 10 cubic meters of water per month and an additional PhP 5.00 per extra 10 cubic meters for the use of the deep well to sustain its operations. On average, Brgy. Masadya is paying PhP 7,000 solely for electricity, which they admit can be utilized for rather more valuable expenses for the community.

The water quality that is sourced from the water pump is also salty and metallic in taste which poses many health risks to the residents. When a household is not able to save enough water within the 4 hours allotment, they have to endure traveling to the next barangay with a water supply— Brgy. Poblacion which is about 7 kilometers away. It is the barangay’s dream to reduce this drudgery to improve the health of its residents and give more opportunity of spending more time on income-generating and other productive activities.

Now, with the installation of the solar-powered water system with filtration and treatment facility, continued access to clean and safe drinking water at any time of the day is guaranteed. A total of 74 households or about 400 residents not only from the community but even from the adjacent barangay can now benefit from the improved water source.

Moreover, the system’s water filtration and treatment facility greatly improve the quality of water. With the technology, the water’s metallic taste has been removed and its brininess has been reduced by 90%. Since it is solar-powered, it also helps the community manage their water needs in an environment-friendly way. The barangay local government unit (BLGU) maintains the technology and ensures that families can collect as much water as they need that is also assured clean and safe. “Malaki po tlga ang pagkaka iba ng lasa ng tubig namin. Hindi na sya maalat, kaya panatag na kami na hindi kami magkakasakit”, said Erlindo Fanoga Jr., Brgy. Masadya’s Brgy. Captain.

Other interventions to guarantee the sustainability and reliability of their water supply include training on the operation and maintenance of the solar-powered water system with filtration and treatment facility, and

provision of Ceramic Water Filters (CWF) to 50 households from other barangays.

DOST-MIMAROPA recognizes the importance of water security to ensure sustainable rural development and resilience, especially in this time of battling against the COVID-19 pandemic where sanitation and hygiene serve as the primary defenses. Through the CEST Program, DOST- MIMAROPA harnesses technology as a springboard for further development in remote areas in the region.

CEST works to raise the living standards of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities by addressing pressing issues related but not limited to livelihood, health and nutrition, education, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation, and environmental protection and conservation.

Improving Children’s Health and Nutrition with Complementary Baby Food

In addition to the solar-powered water pumping system with filtration and treatment facility, Brgy. Masadya also received various interventions to improve their status of health and nutrition through the CEST program. Barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars were provided with various training such as basic nutrition and food safety. The agency also showcased DOST- FNRI’s Complementary Baby Food (CBF) through the conduct of a 120-day feeding program to all malnourished children in the barangay aged 6-36 months. Results showed that the children elevated their nutritional status. Two (2) children were removed from its severely underweight status while the seven (7) underweight children improved their weight and were classified as normal after the intervention.

“Chocobuco” Making

Economic opportunities in the area are limited, with only coconut trees as the most abundant resource and main source of raw materials. To open more livelihood opportunities, a group of women was trained on the chocolate molding. This inspired them to venture into the chocolate- making business as a source of additional income. In 2019, the women’s organization sought assistance from the DOST-MIMAROPA and was provided with coconut processing equipment that can be used to make a special chocolate called “chocobuco”, a chocolate treat infused with coconut filling.

Opportunities in Recycling
 DOST-MIMAROPA also performed a Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) and provided the island with a plastic pulverizer and a junk compactor to improve its waste management and upgrade their Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The technology, which started out as an initiative for solid waste management, later turned out to be an income-generating opportunity for the community and the local government unit. Plastic wastes generated by households are being sold to LGUs to be pulverized and become a bulk material for hollow block making. Pulverized plastics are mixed with cement and gravel and then molded into blocks. These hollow blocks are being used in the construction projects of the LGU. Other recyclable wastes on the other hand are being compacted using the junk compactor and are sold to the nearest waste processing facility in Pinamalayan, Mindoro.


DOST-X Scales Up Food Innovation in Tangub City
 Tangub City – The Department of Science and Technology – Misamis Occidental turned over a check amounting to P1.9M to the Northwestern Mindanao State College of Science and Technology (NMSCST) on January 14, 2021, for scaling up food innovation within the city.

The project entitled, “MSMEs Improved Services and Operations for Competitive Communities thru Food Innovation Convergence (MISOCC-FIC)”, aims to capacitate NMSCST in its goal to aid MSMEs to innovate their food products for enhanced market competitiveness.

NMSCST has been the pioneering Higher Education Institute (HEI) in the province that engages in food innovation and research.

The funding under the MISOCC-FIC project will be for the procurement of the Spray Dryer and Vacuum Fryer equipment developed by the DOST-Metals Industry and Development Center (MIRDC).

The Spray Dryer technology turns liquid foods to solid lengthening the shelf life of various beverages and other food products. The Vacuum Fryer deep-fries food inside a closed system under reduced pressure making the final products crunchy with low fat and moisture content.

“This project will be a great help for the MSMEs in the province and for the NMSCST and its students. It will serve as one of the institution’s income-generating projects and more food products will be innovated”, said Dr. Herbert Glenn Reyes, NMSCST University President.

The facility will also serve as the Food Technology Laboratory for students enrolled in BS Industrial Technology major in Food Technology. (Kristel Alvarico, DOST-Misamis Occidental)

About DOST-XThe Department of Science and Technology – Region X (DOST-X) envisions to be an effective and competent catalyst of inclusive development by providing world class and innovative Science & Technology services in Region X. Contact: Ms. Julie Anne H. Baculio, Science Research Specialist I (stpromotions@region10.dost.gov.ph, 0917-709-3706) #

DOST’s ReBUILD PH! program rolls-out economic recovery initiatives
By Joy M. Lazcano, DOST-STII
 In an effort to drive the economic recovery of the country, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 Sub-Task Group on Economic Recovery held a virtual presser on 29 January 2021 to present several government initiatives by different agencies to play economic catch-up as the country suffered an all-time low economic growth rate brought about by the continuing economic strangle caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual presser presented the economic recovery initiatives of the different agencies of government: Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Tourism, and Department of Agriculture.

The recovery plans were laid out primarily to boost the business sector, fuel up agricultural and industrial production, pump prime the tourism industry, sustain public infrastructure, all of which are expected to jumpstart the country’s efforts towards economic recovery. The presser also served as a venue for all efforts of government agencies to be harmonized by creating the catalyst that will change the economic landscape from uncertainty to better opportunities towards a new normal.

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña rolls-out the Science Department’s economic recovery package that includes the following: boosting productivity of micro, small and medium enterprises; community empowerment; start-up support programs; industry competitiveness; strengthening academic research and development, and creating livelihood opportunities for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

Dubbed as Revitalizing Businesses, Investments, Livelihoods, and Domestic Demand or ReBUILD PH!, DOST presented an array of programs that aim to assist various sectors from the growth of local businesses and start-ups to support for industries, OFWs, and communities using science, technology, and innovation.

According to de la Peña, the economy has to catch-up even amidst a global economic standstill. “We need to start catching-up, and catch-up fast so we are not to be left behind as our economy mostly consists of small to medium enterprises,” says de la Peña.

Among the DOST initiatives bannered by the science chief was the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP.

SETUP is one of the flagship programs of DOST that provides financial and technical assistance to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through a package ranging from technology upgrading, training, consultancies, product improvement, and product testing, to marketing, among others.

To promote industry and academe partnerships for research and development (R&D), DOST created the Collaborative R&D to Leverage Philippines Economy or CRADLE Program. This unique program will strengthen the industry-academe collaboration in conducting R&D activities together with state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the regions to aid in increasing industry competitiveness.

On the other hand, the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology or CEST program aims to strengthen communities through the 5-entry points: health and nutrition, water and sanitation, livelihood and enterprise development, education and literacy, and disaster risk reduction and management.

Meanwhile, DOST also provides support to start-ups through the Technology Business Incubation (TBI) Program. It aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship to the country’s start-up sector. Start-ups can also access the Start-up Research Grant Program that aims to provide funding opportunities that will enable early-stage technologies to penetrate the market through R&D activities.

Aside from this, returning OFWs and their families can also get support through the iFWD PH program that seeks to provide assistance and opportunities to establish technology-based enterprises in the country through training, technical consultancy, mentorship, and innovation fund assistance. With this program, the country’s OFWs need not go abroad anymore to provide for the future of their families.

Furthermore, to enhance the industry competitiveness in the country, DOST implements various support programs for different industries as provided by the following: DOST’s Research and Development Institutes that conduct R&D activities in textile, metals and engineering, industrial technology, forest products, food and nutrition, nuclear technology, and advanced science; the Packaging R&D Center, the one-stop-shop packaging development center for SMEs; the Electronics Product Development Center (EPDC) that provides prototyping, design, and fabrication of electronic products along with electronics testing and product safety; the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AmCen), which promotes R&D on 3D printing technology; the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (ADMATEL) that provides testing and analysis of local electronic products; the Food Innovation Centers (FICs) housed in different SUCs all, over the country to serve as the R&D hubs for food processing.

In addition to these, DOST maintains a network of laboratories called OneLab that ensure public access to testing and calibration services at competitive rates. Aside from that, the OneStore.PH provides digital marketing support to MSMEs under SETUP to reach their market through the use of the e-commerce platform. Finally, the One Expert initiative creates access to an interactive web-based expert pool that provides consultancy services to the business sector.

“I am confident that our business sector can bounce back even in these extraordinary times,” concludes de la Peña. “Because, I believe, we already have the means through science, technology and innovation, and the true Filipino spirit that goes with it.”   (S&T Media Service) 
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