MANILA, Dec. 22 (PIA) — The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Science and Technology (S&T) Fair for the Mindanao Cluster got underway in Zamboanga City from December 3-5, 2015 with focus on S&T’s impacts on the rubber, mining and food industries, including halal.

The fair showcased the many benefits of DOST’s Small Enterprise Upgrading Program or SETUP via project visits to program beneficiaries Philippine Pioneer Rubber Product Corp. (PPRPC) and Monmon Bakeshoppe and Snack Haus in Zamboanga.

Organized in 2000 as a federation of six agrarian reform communities, PPRPC provides milling services to rubber-producing cooperatives, rubber farmers and traders. With SETUP’s assistance, the company has increased production by 25%, provided better quality and faster service to rubber farmers and traders, became compliant to ISO 2000 quality standards, and generated 23 additional employment from 127 to 150 employees.

Monmon Bakeshoppe was also given assistance through upgrading of the bakery facility to meet the growing demand of customers. It increased gross sales by 11.3%, upgraded its product packaging, and now employs eight additional employees aside from the previous five regular workers.

The S&T Fair also saw the launching of various DOST initiatives, such as the rubber testing laboratory inside the DOST Region IX compound at Pettit Barracks in Zamboanga City, as well as the Food Innovation Center in Northern Mindanao located at the Mindanao University of Science and Technology in Cagayan de Oro City which will serve as a hub for innovation of food products.

Also launched was the Halal Laboratory at the DOST Compound in Cotabato City. The facility is projected to increase the integrity of locally made halal products and give credibility to certifying bodies, local halal product manufacturers, producers, and processors for local and international trading.

The Complementary Food Production for the CARAGA Region was also rolled out, featuring food technologies by the DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute. These are the Rice-Mongo Curls, a nutritious snack made from rice flour and mongo flour; and the Rice-Mongo Baby Food Blend, a ready-to-eat baby food. These technologies are part of DOST’s strategies to meet the Philippines’ Millennium Development Goals, namely, to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and to solve the persistent problem of malnutrition among 0-5 year-old children.

Another launching held was that for Better Mine, a DOST and University of the Philippines collaboration for the mining industry. Better Mine eliminates the use of mercury and cyanide, thus promoting a non-hazardous and environment-friendly method to extract gold in the Philippines for small-scale mining applications through integrated gold-copper mineral processing. It can increase gold recovery from 40-50% to 80%, recover other valuable minerals like copper and zinc, has a tailings disposal and treatment system, a flexible operation, as well as low capital and operating expenses for small-scale miners.

“With DOST, with the help of the science and technology agenda, we Filipinos must chart our own course guided by the principle that what we do ultimately benefits Aling Maria and Mang Juan, that science is being felt by the people,” said Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, undersecretary for S&T services of DOST during the S&T fair opening ceremony.

A Sci-Tech Campus Journalism Training-Workshop, research forum, and exhibit, were also held, among others. (Ma. Lotuslei P. Dimagiba, S&T Media Service, DOST-STII/PIA-Caraga)