Iloilo City – The Philippine Food Processing Industry is one of the major components in the manufacturing sector. It accounts for a significant portion not only in terms of revenue generation, but also in terms of employment. And this is also true all over the country including Western Visayas. The significance is deeper than that as our food sector has a very strong backward linkage with the aquaculture and agriculture sectors. According to DOST VI Regional Director Engr. Rowen R. Gelonga, “If you can strengthen the food sector, we can also be enabling and enhancing the well-being of our farmers, fisher folks and other people that supply the materials needed for food processing.” Director Gelonga likewise added that while there are various other stakeholders in food R&D and innovation in the region which need to be tapped, there is also a need to rationalize R&D activities as well as encourage collaborative efforts and undertakings and R&D should also be supportive to the regional development directions and priorities. The Food-iNet aims to improve the food sector in Region VI and accelerate their competitiveness by establishing a network of R&D Centers in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs)/Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and capacitate them to undertake quality research that will promote regional development.

Food-iNet was instituted by the Department of Science and Technology Region VI (DOST VI) with the different Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) namely, University of the Philippines in the Visayas – School of Technology (UPV-SOTECH) as the lead researcher and together with other SUCs focusing on different field of specializations – Guimaras State College, UPV Institute of Fish Processing Technology (IFPT), Capiz State University, Central Philippine University, Aklan State University and University of Antique.

For the initial development and operation of the Food-iNet, UPV is considered to be the lead institution and is expected to mentor the other members since they have longer experience in doing food R&D. The member institutions after 3 to 5 years should be at par already with UPV when it comes to food R&D. Members are also expected to invest in human resource development in food science and technology and related areas and commit to offer BS Food Science or BS Food Technology or related courses like what CPU is offering right now, the BS Packaging Engineering. (MASASalazar/DOST VI)