Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña, the secretary of Science and Technology recent came to Zamboanga City to visit DOST supported projects on 13 March 2018. Sec. de la Peña visited various projects at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU), Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the largest R&D Center for coconut research in the country.
The series of visit in the city is the Secretary’s first this year as he seeks to push for a more vibrant R&D culture in the countryside. In 2017, Sec. FTP or SFTP, as he is called in DOST, visited assisted projects for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the DOST’s flagship program, the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading (SETUP) program.
Prof. de la Peña together with DOST Undersecretaries for Research and Development and Regional Operations, Usec. Rowena L. Guevara and Usec. Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano, respectively, visited the Geo-Safer ZAMBASULTA Office, who is primarily involved in providing up-to-date geo-hazard maps in the region. Aside from this, Ateneo also showcased its newest and the only BS course in the country, the BS BioMedical Engineering, which will significantly increase manpower capacity in health and engineering R&D.
While in WMSU College of Agriculture, the top honchos of DOST with the DOST-IX Regional Director, Mr. Martin A. Wee visited projects on ZamPen Native Chicken, Propagation techniques and Tissue Culture on high-yielding rubber clones, and revitalizing the Abaca Industry through Abaca Hybrids. These are just some of the projects supported by the office to revitalize the the agriculture industry through S&T.
At the PCA-Zamboanga, the team visited the Reinvigorating the Philippine Coconut Industry through CSET Project. It could be remembered that it is the PCA-Zamboanga who provided coconut seedlings during the replanting efforts after the on-slaught of the Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban. Coconut Somatic Embryogenesis Technology (CSet) promotes the rapid production of quality planting materials of high yielding coconut varieties, management control strategies against insect pests and diseases, improved breeding techniques and the production of high value products. CSet is an alternative technique for mass propagation of coconut recently adopted by the Philippine Coconut Authority to reinvigorate the industry. It involves the use of immature flowers, embryos and plumule.
Finally, the series of visit concluded at the Food Innovation Center in ZSCMST, where a demonstration of how the multi-awarded seagrapes product is made through the DOST-developed equipment.
With his vast knowledge on Research and Development, Secretary FTP actively encourages researchers, R&D Institutions, HEIs and SUCs in the regions to come up with meritorious research programs and projects to leverage R&D activities.
Based on UNESCO figures, a country should have 380 researchers, scientists, and engineers (RSE) per million and at least 1% of total GDP expenditure on R&D (GERD). At present, the Philippines only has 270 RSEs and 0.2% GERD placing us in the 52nd spot in the WEF Global Competitiveness Index 2016.
Among the programs DOST is pushing is the Science for Change Program, which aims to accelerate R&D Program for Capacity Building for Research and Development Institutions and Industrial Competitiveness. Under the program, 4 component programs are being promoted. The Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER), which seeks to provide institutional grant for HEIs and SUCs in the regions for R&D capacity building- to improve their S&T infrastructure. The RDLead or the R&D Leadership Program is intended for experts who will lead the establishment and upgrading of new and existing R&D facilities respectively under the NICER Program.
Aside from these, the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE), which creates a synergistic relationship between the academe and the industry with the goal of invigorating Philippine R&D is also promoted along side with the Business Innovation through S&T (BIST) for Industry to facilitate the acquisition of strategic and relevant technologies by Filipino companies for R&D and immediate incorporation in the companies’ activity.
With these programs and other services being offered, Secretary de la Peña hopes that we will meet the 370 RSEs and 0.5% GERD targets by 2022.