DOST-NCR makes progress amidst a challenging time

True to its promise to bring science closer to people amid ongoing health crisis, DOST-NCR Regional Director Jose B. Patalinjug III together with some DOST-NCR staff members held a year-end project visit in its Community Empowerment through Science and technology (CEST) program beneficiaries and Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) adoptors in Muntaparlas (Muntinlupa, Taguig, Pateros, Paranaque, Las Pinas) Cluster last December 17, 2020.

DOST-NCR and DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development implemented Gulayan sa Pamayanan Kontra COVID-19 project in response to the ongoing pandemic. Barangay CAA-BF International Village is one of the first barangays in the National Capital Region that has benefitted from this intervention. It was selected as pilot for the vertical garden using Enhanced Potting Preparation Technology (EPP) and was the recipient of Simple Nutrient Addition Program (SNAP) Technology kits. These simple agricultural technologies are granted to the barangay communal garden and underprivileged families for their livelihood support and household consumption. Through this intervention, urban dwellers are expected to grow nutritious leafy vegetables and herbs in their own backyard and even sell some for additional income. The community members are now earning significant income from their harvest such as alukbate, sweet potato, talinum, kangkong, tarragon, peppermint, ashitaba and other vegetables.

Dir. Patalinjug III interviewed Mr. Rodriguez Bagana, the coordinator of the communal garden, about the status of the planting cycle in the community as well as the technical training provided by DOST-NCR. Director Patalinjug III asked Ms. Elvin Almazar, CEST Program Manager to provide them with new agricultural materials like seeds and fertilizers to support the community so it would thrive despite the odds and the storms that has recently affected their garden.

As the community strives to cultivate the plants and vegetables that have been entrusted to their care, DOST-NCR will continue to provide sufficient technical training and assistance to the community to improve the quality of their lives.

In these trying times, DOST-NCR continues to empower various sectors including the Muslim communities through Science, Technology, and Innovation-based interventions to improve their lives. One of which is Taha M. Basman Memorial Islamic Foundation (Taha Foundation PH), a local non-government organization in Maharlika Village, Taguig City. The foundation has an ongoing project with DOST-NCR. Through the provision of technology and other technical assistance, livelihood opportunities for the guardians of orphans as well as the single mothers in Maharlika Village were generated and their local Muslim product and facility were developed and upgraded. The departments’s Grants-In-Aid (GIA) program has made the development of bottled Beef Randang and the establishment of Halal-compliant processing facility possible. DOST-NCR also ensured the technical assistance covers training on Food Safety and compliance to Halal requirements.

Dir. Patalinjug III discussed with Ms. Nelia Basman, president of Taha Foundation, the future undertakings such as the Halal certification, enhancement of Beef Randang packaging to reach consumers who are travelling overseas, and the establishment of a livelihood activity for the mothers particularly the adoption of DOST-Philippine Textile Research Institute developed handloom technology. The other projects that are underway include the adoption of the e-nutribun – by the DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Research and Development, and development of thermally processed bottled Kagikit and Palapa, Muslim native delicacies.

Afterwards, Taha Foundation showcased their Halal-aligned facility and had the DOST-NCR Staff taste the thermally processed Beef Randang. The team left with a cheerful heart and a grateful spirit for all that is yet to unfold for the mothers and orphans in Maharlika Village.

DOST-NCR also visited successful DOST-assisted Filipino entrepreneurs -Mr. Benjie Inocencio, owner & production manager of Journey Woodblock Enterprises and Ms. Jade Serrano, owner of Manna Shameyn Enterprises. Through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP), these companies were granted S&T assistance that enabled them to acquire appropriate technologies for their business expansion.

Journey Woodblock Enterprises, a company which produces high quality solid wood furniture like modular cabinets, kitchen cabinets, built-in closets, countertops, drop ceilings, bed frames, double-deck beds, and other customized items, based in Taguig City grew remarkably from its humble beginnings. As Mr. Inocencio and his wife shared, DOST-NCR has been instrumental in their company’s growth and it made an immense impact in the lives of their employees. Some of whom are former ‘carwash boy’, ‘street vendors’, and unskilled laborers. Now that they are able to acquire new and improved technologies, they have decided to hire these people and train them, thus changing their lives for the better.

Meanwhile, Manna Shameyn Enterprises, a fabrication company that produces hospital beds and other medical equipment, also expressed its gratitude to DOST-NCR for helping them rise above the challenges as micro entrepreneurs. Now, they have attained an incremental growth that is contributing well to the nation’s high demand for hospital beds since the pandemic hit the country. They were also able to significantly expand the medical equipment accessories that they produce and offer. The Manna Shameyn is one of the few local companies that helps address the insurmountable challenges in the health sector.

Director Patalinjug III felt optimistic about these current developments and wanted to dig dipper to discover untold stories to inspire more Filipino entrepreneurs to continue to hope in this challenging time.

DOST-NCR went to Pateros Municipal Hall to discuss with Mayor Miguel F. Ponce III and Mr. Andy Concio, project consultant, the Revival and Sustainable Development of Balut and Salted Egg Industry of Pateros, one of the fruitful projects of DOST-NCR that began 3 years ago. Pateros has been known for balut making as its primary livelihood. Mayor Ponce III expressed the need of the municipality to have a processing facility so that more balut makers will be given a sustainable livelihood opportunity.

The first phase of the project was a huge success already because the incubators which was used for mass production, lowered the production cost and has generally made the whole process more efficient. In the second phase of the project, 4 sets of 5-door balut incubators will be acquired for the capacity build-up and the food processing facility that will be established for product research and development, thus creating new markets and improving profitability.

Mr. Concio presented the proposal for the Phase 2 of Balut Revival Project including the approved floor plan layout of the proposed R&D Balut Center. As a sign of the municipality’s commitment to the project, they will provide 67.4 percent of the total cost of the project. Dir. Patalinjug III then pledged to provide the grant for the implementation of the second phase of the project. The Memorandum of Agreement will be signed on January 2021. Everyone cheered for the success of the meeting. A new milestone indeed as we bring science closer to people.

By Rossan Ignacio

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