The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) kicked off the second part of its Science for Change Program (S4CP) Summit in Baguio City, showcasing S4CP-funded projects from the North Luzon Region.
Coming from its kick-off last week in Bacolod City, the second leg of the summit was conducted Friday, May 13 at the Newtown Plaza Hotel, Baguio City. With the theme, “Science for Change is Science for the People,” the second leg of the summit highlighted positive changes in institutions, industries, and communities from the four subcomponent programs of S4CP.
These are the Niche Center in the Region for R&D Program (NICER), Collaborative R&D to Leverage the Philippine Economy Program (CRADLE), Business Innovation through S&T for Industry Program (BIST), and R&D Leadership Program (RDLead).
“For the past six years, DOST endeavors to significantly accelerate science, technology, and innovation in the country through a massive increase in investment in the S&T human resource development and research and development (R&D),” DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said.
He added that the S4CP allows the undertaking of relevant and meaningful R&D in NICERs that are at par with international research institutes. He also mentioned that through these centers, there will be a continuing increase in technology-based and value-adding business investments, both foreign and domestic, due to a conducive STI-supported economic environment.
There are 42 NICERs established across 17 regions with P2.23 billion approved grants. From the total NICER grants, Php 450 M or 20 percent were granted to North Luzon HEIs, one of which is the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Isabela State University with an approved grant of P22.5 million. The project involves R&D for the management of the indigenous fisheries resources of the Cagayan Valley Region with emphasis on the highly valued species, lobed river mullet or Ludong and freshwater eels that are present in the Cagayan River system.
Under CRADLE, a total of P37.9 million was granted to nine academe-industry collaborations in North Luzon. One of these collaborations is with the EDCOR Multipurpose Cooperative, a cassava business in San Guillermo, Isabela.
Farmer-members of EDCOR have experienced low quality cassava harvests and one of the reasons identified is disease-infection in cassava plantations, which directly affected the quality of the produce. Through the Demeter’s Eyes project, undertaken by Isabela State University, an embedded system for smart detection, recognition, and mapping of Cassava Phytoplasma Disease (CPD) in cassava plants was developed with a budget of P5 million. The monitoring results of the CPD-infected cassava plants can be used by cassava farmers to immediately isolate the infected plants to avoid possible spread to other areas of plantation.
To date, there is no approved BIST project in North Luzon.
For the RDLead Program, in the Cordillera Region, Dr. Ronald T. Del Castillo, consultant of the World Food Programme, is the RDLeader in Saint Louis University (SLU). He is a consultant in the United Nations World Food Program (Philippines). He is the team lead on research about developing and applying social and behavioral communication tools in improving food and nutrition-related behaviors, including Indigenous Peoples (IP) and in the DOST-PCHRD-funded research on mobile mental health.
Undersecretary Guevara further stressed that it is important to sustain the R&D initiatives and undertakings with the stakeholders in all regions. “Through the S4CP Bill, we can ensure that research studies and results propagate society-centric solutions that benefit the Filipinos,” she explained.
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