Agriculture has been shaped significantly by technological advancements over time. Humans have found innovative techniques to make farming more efficient and produce more food, from the invention of the plow to the Global Positioning System (GPS) of precision farming equipment. Farmers are also always looking for innovative ways to irrigate crops or develop disease resistant cultivars.
The Region 10 Science and Technology Department’s Small Business Technology Upgrade Program (SETUP) (DOST-10) has reportedly benefited around 500 farmers, according to a DOST-10 official.
According to a report, DOST Bukidnon Provincial Director Ritchie Mae Guno claimed to have recently helped a food manufacturing company, allowing the microenterprise to become the leading cocoa butter maker in northern Mindanao. The company had received a PHP 625,000 loan from DOST, which enabled it to purchase brand new equipment such as an industrial hydraulic butter extractor, an industrial colloid mill and a multi-functional industrial grinder.
SETUP strives to support and promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt technological advancements to improve their products and operations. It was recognized that around 500 farmers benefited from the improvement in their technical knowledge and equipment. âThey are small farmers from the municipality of Pangantucan, including other neighboring towns like Kalilangan and Maramag,â Guno said.
Its DOST-funded product innovation support initiative runs from June 2021 to June 2022. Prior to being a beneficiary of SETUP, the food manufacturing company faced challenges in many areas. sectors of its manufacture, resulting in poor product quality and an inefficient production process, according to the secretary of DOST Fortunato de la Pena. The company expects a 175% increase in sales next year, compared to 2021, thanks to help from DOST, according to de la Pena and Guno.
According to them, some of the company’s products are sold abroad through family and friends. Currently, the company’s local clients are from Cebu and Manila. Meanwhile, Guno said DOST also helped the company with its FDA license to operate the app. âWe also linked them (to those providing) free consultations on good manufacturing practices, packaging and labeling,â she said.
According to OpenGov Asia, SETUP e-Caravan presents various technical support for MSMEs, including capacity building, technology upgrade, advice and assistance in manufacturing improvement, especially in this time of pandemic. of COVID-19.
Several supporters of DOST SETUP have not been spared from the negative effects of the pandemic as they have struggled to stay afloat using science, technology and innovation. According to a study cited by the DOST secretary, 70.6% of MSMEs in the Philippines have been forced to shut down temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He went on to say that âover 70% of local MSMEs had cash flow problems,â forcing owners to borrow from friends and family to run their businesses.
DOST has incorporated a moratorium on SETUP reimbursement payments for five months in 2020 and six months this year as part of its contingency plan to mitigate the blow to its cooperators. DOST is now focusing on reintroducing its SETUP program as SETUP 4.0, which will include industries in the ministry’s priority sectors. SETUP 4.0 will not only help MSMEs overcome the challenges of the pandemic, but will also prepare them and their respective industries for the Industrial Revolution 4.0, which will be characterized by the widespread use of emerging technologies such as automation, l ‘Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence, among others.
Despite the improvement in the competitiveness of MSME, the Director of DOST-NCR said that it has been impacted by several factors such as consumer demand for the products, rising costs of materials and production, policies and the emergence of health protocols in the aftermath of COVID. -19 pandemic.