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DOST pushes science, biotech program to strengthen MSMEs in Bicol

NAGA CITY—The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is aggressively pushing in Bicol a program to further strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to become the backbone of the country’s economy.

As driving forces for manufacturing and production, MSMEs are the bedrock for economic stability, forming 99.6 percent of all enterprises and 60 percent of all exporting firms in the Philippines.

They also employ 53 percent of the country’s labor force, said DOST regional director for Bicol Tomas Briñas at the SM City Events Center here over the weekend.

The facility was the venue for the five-day Southern Luzon Cluster Science and Technology (S&T) Fair that ended on Sunday and brought together the DOST and local MSMEs into showcasing the latest visual and interactive breakthroughs and technology-generated, -developed and -commercialized products.

Anchored on the theme “Responding to Global Challenges Through Science and Technology,” the S&T fair was a joint initiative of the DOST regional offices in Bicol, the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan).

In urging Bicolanos to engage in manufacturing and production, DOST Assistant Secretary Mario Bravo, who represented Science Secretary Estrella Alabastro, said during the culmination day of the event that the agency is presently accepting applicants for its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading (Setup) program.

Setup, he said, is the umbrella program that provides both technical and financial assistance to S&T-related activities of MSMEs.

These activities include technology and raw-materials acquisition, training and consultancy, Bravo said, adding that Bicol has been allocated by the DOST some P6 million to finance these activities this year.

“Setup provides new technology, manpower training, capital, product markets, product standards and testing facilities, packaging and product labeling, raw materials, information and better transport facilities,” Ma. Josefina Abilay, DOST regional director for the Mimaropa said.

The program is a nationwide strategy to boost MSME productivity and competitiveness via technology innovations and the technical interventions involving it result in enhanced product quality, upgraded human resources, cost reduction, effective waste management and tuned-up operations, Abilay said.

Bravo said with Setup, MSMEs can find answers to enterprise challenges and problems; get technical advices from consultants, training for workers; and acquire new equipment to mechanized and improved product lines.

It also provides for standardized and improved product quality for more competiveness with proper labeling and packaging, he said.

Qualified beneficiaries for Setup are Filipino entrepreneurs operating MSMEs classified under priority sectors, such as food processing, furniture, gift items and decorative handicrafts, marine resources, horticulture like cutflowers, fruits or high-value crops and metal processing.

“Through this program, we are expanding the whole gamut of economic activity as the vital role of MSMEs is recognized and so are their needs,” Bravo added.

Briñas said the S&T fair acquainted the public about the role in manpower development of the agency’s Science Education Institution-Human Resource Development Program.

Product-technology upgrading, employment and investment generation and enterprise development via DOST programs were also showcased in the fair.

Briñas said these programs are aimed at building up massive advocacy, promotion and application of science and technology among the citizenry.

Entrepreneurs engaged in MSMEs were also taught food safety and appropriate packaging, while attendees in the scientific fora underwent sessions on biological control for the management of Brontispa longgisima in coconut, risk mapping, pili pulp oil, indigenous herbal medicine, avoiding the inevitable health-related effects of calamity, alternative energy and understanding the weather, he said.

Under the techno-demo, participants were taught how to cook and prepare nutritious snack food, he added.

Written by Danny O. Calleja / Correspondent
Sunday, 29 November 2009 19:03
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