Three micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Negros Occidental received financial assistance to adopt technological innovations through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program Innovation-Enabling Fund (SETUP iFund) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

SETUP is a DOST flagship program that aims to assist the MSMEs to produce quality products, increase productivity, and sustain marketability through technology and equipment upgrading and strengthening of innovation capability. The SETUP iFund, in particular, is provided to selected and qualified enterprises so that they can upgrade their production facilities, upgrade their products even go into a simple R&D for additional product variance, among others.  According to DOST VI Regional Director Rowen R. Gelonga, “The DOST financial assistance through SETUP iFUND is one of the cornerstones of DOST’s major program for assisting MSMEs.  This came about because most of the deliverables of the department are mostly anchored on research and development.  One of the reasons the program was implemented is mainly because of the lack of funds for the MSMEs to upgrade their facilities, to acquire new equipment, and implement technological recommendations of experts and not because they do not want to adopt the technologies.”  The financial assistance is not a grant but it is given as a technology transfer support mechanism to MSMEs where they will refund back to the government the amount given to them.

The qualified beneficiaries from the province of Negros Occidental are S&E Agri-Aqua Ventures Corporation (SEACORP), Suarez Enterprise, and the Mardal Corporation.   The shrimp farm of SEACORP started in 2014 for the production of the natural, safe, and best quality white shrimps or Litopenaeus vannamei.  SEACORP ensures to produce good quality shrimps that are sold to local and exporting processors in Negros Occidental.  It uses environment-friendly practices including its strategic location that has less exposure to pollution. The technological assistance availed from DOST’s SETUP iFund aims to improve the production efficiency of the shrimp farm with increased annual cycles and stocking densities.  SEACORP was also one of the successful beneficiaries of the Consultancy for Agricultural Productivity Enhancement (CAPE) of DOST VI in 2017.  The assistance from the program made an impact on the prevention and management of viral diseases and the productivity of the shrimp farm.

Suarez Enterprise on the other hand produces fresh Calamansi Juice under the brand name, Sir Jess.  It ensures the production of fresh products as its ingredients and raw materials are locally-sourced and harvested from its farm. Through SETUP iFund, the company aims to improve its production technology, introduce a new product line, and enhance food safety compliance.

Also producing white shrimps is the Mardal Corporation.  The company distributes its products in the local market in the province and also to wholesalers in Manila and Capiz.  It also supplies to small retailers and online sellers within the Negros Occidental Province.  Mardal Corporation produces fresh shrimps in various sizes to meet the demands of the market.  DOST’s SETUP iFund was availed by the company to further increase the production efficiency and enhance the carrying capacity of the shrimp farm.

Because of the pandemic, DOST further heightened its support to the MSMEs by adopting the strategies to the conditions of the new normal, delivering a lot of its services virtually using the online systems.  “With this pandemic health crisis, it even became more challenging in helping our MSMEs attain a higher level of competitiveness.  Thus, DOST doubles its efforts in supporting the different requirements of the MSMEs,” added Director Gelonga.

The DOST services encompass technology trainings, consultancy services, ranging from food safety to product packaging and product improvement.  Know more about the DOST programs and projects at the official DOST VI website http://region6.  (SSalazar/DOST 6)