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Northern Luzon traders benefit from local technology transfer

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 12:00 AM    Views : 960by:RAMON EFREN R. LAZARO

BATAC, Ilocos Norte—Technology interventions by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have helped Northern Luzon's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make significant improvements in their product lines.

Such interventions to help the SMEs in Regions 1 and 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were made possible through the DOST's Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP).

The local entrepreneurs shared their achievements with other traders and with participants to the 2012 Northern Luzon Cluster Science and Technology Fair, which opened on Monday at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in this city.

One beneficiary of the SET-UP is Agnes Dragon Fruit Herbal Soap in Barangay Pias Norte in Currimao town of Ilocos Norte.

Its owner, Agnes Asuncion, had attended seminars on soap-making at the MMSU that suggested using extracts from dragon fruit in her products.

According to Asuncion, her long-time customers would tell her that they noticed their cuts and bruises healing faster with the use of the soap bars containing dragon-fruit extracts.

Later on, she said, they also would tell her that regular use of the "dragon" soap prevented acne and other skin diseases.

Asuncion started her soap-making business with just P10,000 in May 2010.

Immediately, she said, she sought technology interventions in production equipment that she needed, such as heavy-duty blender, soap mixer and flavor mixer.

Also, she asked for DOST assistance in packaging and labeling her products to make them more attractive to potential buyers.

Another local entrepreneur who was thankful to the SET-UP is Camillo Abadilla of Cormel Foods, maker of tropical wines and distilled spirits.

Cormel Foods was established in 1996 with technical backstopping from the DOST and an initial start-up capital of P550,000 for the production of sukang Iloko (Ilocano vinegar).

In 2000 it began making basi and duhat wines and in 2009 produced aromatic wine from duhat and bugnay fruits, with technological assistance from the DOST.

The company's capitalization has since increased to P1.7 million, and it now employs 15 workers.

Its production volume has also jumped by 20 percent and gross sales by 69 percent, thanks to further help from the DOST in procuring additional production equipment.

Such strides saw Cormel Foods break into the international market particularly into the US mainland Hawaii, South Korea and Guam.

For Narciso Mosuela of Natomo Manufacuring in Barangay Ubbog, Bangar town of La province, his family-owned enterprise that produces portable and inexpensive farm machinery started in 1980 with his super kalan ("magic stove").

In 1999 Natomo Manufacturing availed itself of assistance through the SET-UP for acquiring power tools, spot welding machine and aluminum foundry.

In 2005 it also tapped into the SET-UP and acquired a lathe and other machines.

The DOST's technology interventions enabled the company to increase its production volume and employ more workers, according to Mosuela.

Mirriam Pascua, president of the MMSU, told visitors and participants to the fair that the event is aimed at showcasing technologies that the DOST and its researchers have developed for the SMEs.

She said these technologies may help spur economic development not only in Northern Luzon but also the whole country.

DOST Region 1 Director Elsa Chan said the MMSU has hosted the fair for three years, with the last two seeing an average of 50,000 visitors and participated in by different SMEs from Regions 1 and 2, and the CAR.

Science Assistant Secretary Ma. Lourdes Orijola said their Balik-Scientist Program has helped improved capacity enhancement of local researchers.

Orijola added that Northern Luzon has produced many foreign-based Filipino scientists, who have helped enhanced the SET-UP.

She, however, said that research in the Philippines is still very weak and badly needs support from investors and the private sector.

Still, the DOST and the SMEs that it had helped through the technology interventions are seeing how the SET-UP has reaped dividends for the three regions' entrepreneurs.


S & T Trivia

" Dr. Baldomero Olivera, a UP Summa cum Laude graduate, discovered conotoxins, a bunch of biomolecules in Philippine marine snails now used in international neuroscience research. A seacone known scientifically as Conus lapulapu was named after Lapulapu, the Philippine hero who killed Ferdinand Magellan in war. "

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