Sec. Fortunato de la Peña and RD Martin A. Wee pose for posterity with PSHS ZRC officials led by Campus Director Engr. Louie Jamora (2nd from left)
Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña praised some micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Zamboanga del Norte for their resilience and big contribution to the economy during his visit in the province last 17-18 June 2022.
Sec. de la Peña was elated to see how these enterprises were able to sustain business operations and provide employment, especially during the pandemic. He expressed his delight that DOST was able to assist these businesses in improving their facilities, operations, and product quality.
The Secretary and his party visited four (4) MSMEs in the province which are adopters of the agency’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP). SETUP is DOST’s flagship program assisting MSMEs to adopt technological innovations to boost their operation and improve productivity. The program offers a package of interventions such as equipment upgrading, human resource development, technical consultancy services, and laboratory analyses, among others.
The enterprises visited include Laguerta Food Products in Katipunan; MDG Agri Aqua Enterprises and Celso Fish Production in Sibutad; and Balay ni SRB in Dipolog City.
Mechanizing Calamansi Juice Processing
Located in the Municipality of Katipunan, Laguerta Food Products was able to mechanize its operation through DOST’s assistance. This calamansi processing firm was granted P999,936.00 to acquire semi-mechanized calamansi juice processing equipment and water purification system. Aside from equipment upgrading, DOST also provided training on equipment operation and good manufacturing practices; technical consultancy on proper plant layouting and compliance to FDA regulations; and laboratory analysis.
Sec. Fortunato de la Peña chats with Laguerta Food Products proprietor Ardie Quiamjot while Regional Director Martin A. Wee and Provincial Director Nuhman M. Aljani check one of the equipment in the facility
“Malaki talaga ang tulong ng DOST sa amin. Na upgrade namin ang aming business”, said the proprietor Mr. Ardie S. Quiamjot. “We are indeed very honored and privileged to be visited by no less than DOST Secretary,” co-proprietor Mrs. Anita Quiamjot quipped to Sec de la Peña during the visit.
With the upgrading, the firm was able to increase their production by five times and was able to employ three more workers. They were also able to market their products in major supermarkets and grocery stores in the province. “We are now producing around 50 cases per day and we are already looking at expanding outside the province like the cities of Dumaguete and Cebu,” Mr. Quaimjot added.
Sec. Fortunato de la Peña with PD Nuhman M. Aljani inspects the equipment
Efficient Bangus Production
Sec. Fortunato de la Peña and his party checking a Norwegian fish cage in Sibutad
The Secretary and his party also visited two SETUP adopters in Sibutad -- MDG Agri Aqua Enterprises and Celso Fish Production. The two firms were granted P1,349,587.00 each. The assistance paved the way for the firms to upgrade their Bangus production business from using traditional bamboo cages to Norwegian-type cages.
One of the fish cages in Sibutad with a banner welcoming the Secretary
The Norwegian-type cages is made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic pipes. The structure can last up to 30 years with very minimal maintenance requirements. In contrast, the bamboo cages can only last up to a maximum of two years with heavy maintenance along the way. The upgraded cages can also accommodate bigger volume – more than three times that of bamboo cages from 15,000 to 50,000 fingerlings per cropping cycle.
“It requires investment at the start but in the long run the technology is very economical. We can save a lot of money,” stated Mr. Miguel Lopez, proprietor of MDG Agri Aqua Enterprises.
Innovative crab fattening enterprise
Sec. Fortunato de la Peña with DOST IX Officials and personnel pose for posterity with proprietor of Balay ni SRB Norbyn Patangan
The final project visited by the Secretary is Dipolog City-based Balay ni SRB for their crab fattening business. The firm was granted P578,880.00 to acquire the innovative recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). RAS employs “crab condo” with complete accessories and water recirculating system mimicking the natural habitat of crabs. The facility can accommodate 500 crabs at once. The crabs reared at RAS setup can triple its weight in just 15 days’ cycle – from average of 300 grams to 900 grams. The facility is the first in the region.
Sec. Fortunato de la Peña leads the turnover of a 3D-Printed replica of Dr. Jose Rizal to Rizal Shrine head curator Sofia Eguia- Bagolboc and Dapitan City Councilor Bin Balisado (5th and 4th from right)
Aside from visiting SETUP-assisted projects in the province, the Secretary also turned over a replica of the 3D -printed statue of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the Filipino Scientist, to Museo ni Rizal Dapitan in Dapitan City. The team also visited the Philippine Science High School-Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Campus (PSHS-ZRC).
The Secretary was joined by Dir. Richard Burgos and Ms. Mary Margaret Deremdes of DOST’s Science and Technology Information Institute; Mr. Jeriel Fajutagana and Mr. Enrico Belga, Jr. of the Office of the Secretary. They were joined by DOST-IX Regional Director Martin Wee, ARD Mahmud Kingking, ARD Rosemarie Salazar, Supervising SRS Thelma Diego, Ms. Jean Ann Dagoy, and Provincial Directors Gerardo Parot and Jennifer Pidor and their staff from Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay provinces.