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DOST plants R&D investments for the future of agro-industries in Mindanao

Agro-industries in Mindanao

The Department of Science and Technology held the second leg of its 2024 Call Conference in Cagayan De Oro City for the Mindanao Cluster. In an effort to encourage local businesses, academic institutions, local government units and other related stakeholders to avail of research and development (R&D) funding, outputs of innovation centers in Mindanao were showcased.

“R&D holds the power to reshape our country’s agribusiness landscape,” said DOST Undersecretary Leah J. Buendia. “We can improve the way agriculture is practiced and support our farmers and local businesses in enhancing their productivity, sustainability and profitability.”

In focus are Niche Centers in the Regions (NICER) for R&D Program funded innovation Centers in Mindanao. Through the program, qualified Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the regions are provided with R&D grants so they can undertake quality research directed at promoting regional development.

Sea Cucumber

Capitalizing on the diversity and abundance of sea cucumbers in selected areas of Mindanao, DOST funded P72 million pesos to Mindanao State University in Naawan to create the Sea Cucumber R&D Center. The innovation center focused on two economically viable and high value species – the white teatfish (Holothuria fuscogilva) and the sandfish (Holothuria scabra). The NICER program is developing hatcheries within coastal communities in Mindanao to provide alternative and sustainable sources and to ensure that the dwindling numbers of sea cucumbers in the wild will be undisturbed.

For seaweed R&D, DOST supported and funded the Seaweed Research and Development Center (SeaRDeC) NICER at the Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography. SeaRDeC aims to increase seaweed production, improve the quality of raw dried seaweeds to meet the Philippine National Quality Standards for raw dried seaweeds, and promote a commercially sustainable cultivated seaweed industry.

Mindanao has two additional NICER Centers. The NICER on sustainable polymers, implemented by the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, iis developing Coconut Monoglyceride-based (CMG) polyols. This technology is a component of polyurethane foams that have a variety of consumer and commercial potential. It can be used in furniture, automotive interiors, and packaging products. The Central Mindanao University (CMU) also implemented the NICER on bamboo R&D center to provide leadership in advancing knowledge and sustainable management and utilization of bamboo resources in the country.

DOST also provides support to industries in Mindanao by ensuring their collaboration in research and development projects. The Light Edge Computer Vision Solution for Smart and Efficient Traffic Management (TrafficEZ) of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) under the DOST Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE) Program aims to develop a smart traffic monitoring system using computer vision and edge computing that effectively detects traffic incidents and congestion, and mitigates network bottlenecks by efficiently using computing resources available at both edge nodes and the Traffic Management Center (TMC). This project is poised to improve quality of life by reducing traffic congestion, enhance road safety by reducing the number of accidents and improving overall public safety, and it can reduce idle time for vehicles, leading to a decrease in vehicle emissions, contributing to a cleaner air and a healthier environment.

DOST also supported the project “Energy Harvesting for Battery-less IoT Device Operation” of the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) which aims to design and develop integrated circuit methodologies for efficient multiple energy harvesting technologies used for battery-less IoT devices and other ultra-low power consumer electronics devices.

Agro-industries in Mindanao

DOST ensures as well that outputs of R&D projects reach the public through technology transfer and commercialization. It supported the CDO b.i.t.e.s. (Business Incubation Technology Entrepreneurship and Startups) of the USTP which aspires to be a regionally recognized technology business incubation that will serve budding entrepreneurs involved in ICT-based products and services and contribute to the development of the local economy. In 2023, CDObites assisted 22 entrepreneurs and startups in the region, forged nine partnerships, conducted 32 consultation and mentoring sessions, organized and participated in 56 events, and 26 collaborative programs.

DOST also provides support to MSMEs in Mindanao through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP). Through this program, the different S&T interventions have been aggressively delivered. SETUP is a nationwide strategy to encourage and assist MSMEs as well as private and government institutions to implement technological innovations in order to enhance their competitiveness and support the economic development in the countryside. The program enables beneficiaries to address their technical problems through technology transfer and technology interventions to improve product quality, develop human resources, minimize cost, enhance waste management, and other operation related activities.

A DOST SETUP beneficiary from Mindanao, Bestfriend Goodies, adopted 6 publicly-funded food technologies: the 1) Ready to Eat Arroz Caldo, 2) Ready to Eat Foods (Champ-O!, Mix-Mo!, Mung-Grow, Tinolang Manok), and the 3) Enhanced Nutribun.

DOST also developed the program entitled “Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology” (CEST Program). It aims to empower the poor and the marginalized sector and to improve the quality of living through science and technology.

Through regional offices, the journey from R&D stage up to the point where the developed technologies are commercialized and supported by DOST. For more information, interested parties may visit https://dpmis.dost.gov.ph/.

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