Agriculture - - More Push Needed -

THE DEPART­MENT OF SCIENCE and Tech­nol­ogy (DOST) ban­nered the many in­roads it has cre­ated in science, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tions on the oc­ca­sion of its re­cent Science Na­tion Tour for Re­gion VII in Cebu City. Now on its fifth leg, the Science Na­tion Tour is a na­tion­wide road­show high­light­ing the many DOST-backed Filipino in­ven­tions, state-of-the-art tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions geared to­wards im­prov­ing global com­pet­i­tive­ness, at­tain­ing in­clu­sive growth, and cul­ti­vat­ing a cul­ture of science and tech­nol­ogy (S&T) in the Philip­pines.

DOST aims to pro­vide in­no­va­tive, cost-ef­fec­tive, and ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nolo­gies for mi­cro, small, and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs) to aid them in de­vel­op­ing world-class prod­ucts, said DOST As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Ray­mund E. Li­boro in his key­note ad­dress at the Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Ex­po­si­tion, one of the many ac­tiv­i­ties in the road­show.

One of its pro­grams, the Small En­ter­prise Tech­nol­ogy Up­grad­ing Pro­gram or SETUP, al­lows en­trepreneurs to adopt lo­cal tech­nolo­gies to min­i­mize their cost of pro­duc­tion such as ma­chiner­ies that they would oth­er­wise im­port, and max­i­mize in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­ce­dures that will save time and re­sources.

Un­der the SETUP pro­gram, eight key busi­ness cat­e­gories are in­cluded, namely: food pro­cess­ing; hor­ti­cul­ture and agri­cul­ture; marine and aquatic re­sources; gifts, decors and house­wares; fur­ni­ture; met­als and en­gi­neer­ing; phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy. It is clear that the NGP is not enough to rein­tro­duce trees into de­for­ested land. A com­pre­hen­sive re­for­esta­tion pro­gram is what the NGP hopes to achieve.

To im­prove and en­hance the NGP’s per­for­mance, the au­thors of the study em­pha­size ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges that slow its progress.

Firstly, sub­stan­tive data must be gath­ered and pro­vided to fully come up with a sub­stan­tive pic­ture of the pro­gram’s progress.

The avail­able data—ex­ceed­ing plant­ing sites and ac­tual tar­get per hectare by 14 per­cent by the end of 2013, and yet miss­ing the yearly seedling tar­get per year—is not enough to de­ter­mine whether or not the NGP is on the way to achieve its ob­jec­tives.

Se­condly, mon­i­tor­ing and in­spec­tion of trees have to be en­forced to mon­i­tor, en­sure, and in­crease the rate of sur­vival, which cur­rently sits at 61 per­cent. The goal is 85 per­cent. Li­boro also pre­sented another DOST de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive: the Re­gional Food In­no­va­tion Cen­ters which serve as nerve cen­ters for food pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing that meet in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

For Cen­tral Visayas, the cen­ter will be hosted at the Cebu In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Univer­sity and was for­mally launched last month.

The re­gional cen­ters will pro­vide MSMEs with tech­ni­cal sup­port for prod­uct and process de­vel­op­ment, food test­ing, shelf life and sen­sory eval­u­a­tion, con­sul­tancy, pack­ag­ing and la­bel­ing, short-run pro­duc­tion, in­cu­ba­tor fa­cil­i­ties, and an in­for­ma­tion re­source cen­ter.

“It is the ‘af­ter’ that mat­ters most and this would mean that such ef­forts of the DOST should lead to some­thing ben­e­fi­cial to both the Filipinos and the Philip­pines and hope that our pro­grams be­come the cat­a­lyst to trans­form the Filipinos and our coun­try as we all walk to­ward change; liv­ing in a coun­try de­scribed as a Science Na­tion,” Li­boro con­cluded as he called on all sec­tors to join the Depart­ment in mak­ing the Philip­pines a Science Na­tion meet­ing global chal­lenges.

The Food In­no­va­tion Cen­ter and SETUP are just two of the many DOST knowl­edge prod­ucts and ser­vices pro­moted dur­ing the Science Na­tion Tour. (S&T Media Ser­vice) The Com­mis­sion on Au­dit (COA) crit­i­cized the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources re­port on the NGP for not hav­ing an in­spec­tion or mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem for the sur­vival rate of the seedlings. The pro­gram fo­cused its eval­u­a­tion too much on quan­tity in­stead of qual­ity, ac­cord­ing to COA re­port.

That same year, a study, also by Dr. Is­rael, claimed that par­tic­i­pants on the ground viewed the pro­gram’s per­for­mance pos­i­tively in terms of in­creased liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties and im­proved en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. But de­lays in the avail­abil­ity of mo­bi­liza­tion funds and lim­ited per­son­nel have held back NGP per­for­mance, mak­ing it only par­tially ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient.

The frame­work for the im­pact as­sess­ment of the NGP con­tains four com­po­nents—eco­nomic, so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal, and in­sti­tu­tional. All of these will be eval­u­ated as the pro­gram con­tin­ues, hope­fully to pro­vide a more in-depth pic­ture for stud­ies to im­prove im­ple­men­ta­tion mech­a­nisms for the NGP and for fu­ture re­for­esta­tion pro­grams. (Source: De­vel­op­ment Re­search News, Jan­uary-March 2015 is­sue)

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