On July 13, 2022, DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, along with his team and DOST-IX officials and personnel led by Regional Director Martin A. Wee, visits six (6) S&T assisted projects in Zamboanga City. The visit aims to showcase the impact of DOST on the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Zamboanga Peninsula and check the growth of these MSMEs since the first DOST assistance was given to them.
He began his visit at RK Trading and Services located in Pasonanca, Zamboanga City, where he was warmly welcomed by the firm’s proprietor, Ms. Rosella Tan. The firm is a Zamboanga City-based food manufacturer and maker of premium gourmet-style products, including bottled Spanish Style Sardines, Gourmet Tuyo, Sardine pâté, and Peanut Brittle.
As narrated by Mrs. Tan, they named their brand "Doña Christina" after her best friend, who encouraged her to start the gourmet business. As of today, the firm has a License to Operate (LTO) as authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), employs three (3) staff, and is able to produce 12-15 cases of different gourmets and around 160 pouches (75g and 225g) of peanut brittle per month.
Usec. Mabborang sharing his ideas to the proprietor, Mrs. Rosella Tan
During the conversation with the proprietor, Usec. Mabborang gave some of his thoughts on the product, process, and technique to enhance the value and brand equity. He also encouraged them to open an account on "oneSTore.ph", an online marketing platform created by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for MSMEs so that food and non-food products from different regions will be within their reach nationwide.
The interventions given to them by DOST include process and system improvements, and the development of human resources through a series of training. The said project started in 2018 and will culminate in 2 years’ time (2024).
DOST Usec. Sancho Mabborang and RD Martin Wee with the proprietor Ms. Fe Hau
Usec. Mabborang’s next visit was with Zambo Tropical Foods in Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City. He was welcomed by the proprietor, Ms. Fe Hau. The firm goes by the banner of "makers of the best-tasting Philippine juice drink"—Calamansi Juice.
The said firm was one of the first SETUP beneficiaries in Region IX, and has been expanding since then. Accordingly, they have added more employees who help them in the operation, and they are now catering nationwide, including online markets through shopee.ph and oneSTore.ph.
The team also visited MCH Carmela The Food Shop, a Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) beneficiary since October 2019. The firm was able to provide employment opportunities to 32 individuals and increase its production capacity to about 66,000 pcs of assorted kakanin (Tagalog term for sweets; sweet foods; small snacks; rice cake) per month.
Usec. Mabborang and team, going around the production area of MCH CARMELA THE FOOD SHOP
Mr. Melvin Mari welcomed and toured the team in the production area where the facilities they acquired through DOST are visible, some of which are Rotary Oven, Empanada Maker, 3 Deck Gas Oven, Spiral Mixer Half Bagger, Steamer and Planetary mixer.
Another project visited by Usec. Mabborang is the ZamPen Food Innovation Center, located at the ZSCMST. ZSCMST ZPFIC aims to facilitate the commercialization of selected vacuum fryers and dehydrated food products they have developed.
By far, the technological interventions provided by DOST IX were the Spray Dryer, water retort, freeze dryer, vacuum dryer, cabinet dryer, grinder/pulverizer, and silent cutter, among others.
Usec. Mabborang inspects the SoSea Seaweed Salad
The SoSea Seaweed Salad, a dried agar in a waterproof polystyrene cup; and the dehydrated Marang (Artocarpus odoratissimus, a species of flowering plant in the Moraceae family) chips were both available for the undersecretary to try during the visit. However, since the center is only manufacturing a small number of these products as of now, he urged them to increase production and have them available in the market.
Next was Zam's Delight Foods, another SETUP beneficiary who is into the processing of Calamansi Juice. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph and Sheryl Jean Candido, welcomed Usec. Mabborang and the team into their new operation area in Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City, where the new equipment is installed.
ZAM’s DELIGHT employee boxing the juice products
As of now, the number of employees has multiplied; from 13, they now have 35 employees since the production also increased to 10,000 from the previous 5,000 bottles per month. They are now catering to Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Ipil, Dipolog, Pagadian, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, and Manila. The products are also being exported to China through a distributor.
Meanwhile, to address the calamansi byproduct (peels and seeds), the undersecretary gave the idea of waste mats to properly dispose of or optimize them.
Proprietor photo op with the undersecretary and DOST personnel (left); & employee painting the steel gate (right)
Steel Colors and Metal Products, one of the leading companies in Zamboanga City when it comes to steel products like roofing, railings, steel doors, and grills, was the last DOST-assisted project visited by Engr. Sancho Mabborang, and his team, in Putik, Zamboanga City.
The firm is expanding and so are the employees—from the previous 36, they are now employing 50. Production is also increasing due to the rising demand for rib and cladding types of roofs and other services they offer.
One of the best practices shared by the owner, Mr. Reggie Zumel, is cost-cutting. Instead of purchasing finished products from other suppliers, they buy the raw materials and fabricate them themselves, which enables them to maximize their profits.
The activity culminated with the undersecretary stressing the need to further amplify DOST’s efforts in aiding MSMEs even after the engagement on SETUP has already been completed.