By Mike Baños
Some of the Philippines’ best and brightest minds proposed a package of solutions to direct the island towards a “food-secure future” during the third plenary of the Mindanao Food Congress held October 28, 2022 at a local hotel.
University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) President Ambrosio B. Cultura II PhD set the tone for the morning’s presentations by proposing the optimization of the Science & Technology Park as a “driver for the metropolization” of Metro Cagayan de Oro.
Driver for Metropolization
In his presentation on the Role of Science and Technology Parks in Food Innovation and Sustainability, Dr Cultura stressed the need for instantaneous and collaborative action to achieve zero hunger.
He shared with the audience USTP’s strategy to establish a vibrant innovation ecosystem in region 10, and USTP’s plan to establish three S&T parks: AGILA, AGROPOLIS and Villanueva, with seven component centers using the quadruple helix approach of collaboration.
For her part, Acd Rhodora V. Azanza PhD, Professor Emeritus, UP Diliman, and National Academy of Science and Technology President, presented Pagtanaw 2050’ Science, Technology and Innovation Foresight, a living document of the Philippine- focused Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Foresight and Strategic Plan.
Pagtanaw 2050 contains NAST’s recommendation on how the Philippines should move into the future given old and new challenges (poverty, pandemic, climate change, 4th Ind and regional politics), and the increasing population 144M by 2050. It provides information on coastal and marine resources, and the most important conditions that the country should attain.
ACD Azanza said PAGTANAW 2050 identifies the uncertainties, risks, and shocks and black swans that may arise during the implementation of the STI inputs for the national development agenda, intended to benefit 144 million Filipinos by the year 2050.
She invited Local Chief Executives, leaders in government and the private sector, and academe, to utilize PAGTANAW 2050 as provided in a Memorandum No. 61 S 2022 of the Office of the President. “Approving the 2022 Strategic Investment Priority Plan”.
The main goal of the document is to chart a strategic path by anticipating the factors that will influence the development of the Philippines’ scientific capital in the years leading up to 2050.
Among the objectives of Pagtanaw 2050 as presented by Acd Azanza are: Develop the Philippines’ scientific capital in the years leading to 2050; Chart Strategic Science, Technology and Innovation ( STI ) pathways; Mobilize vigilance on cooperative action plans; Identify emerging paths and source areas for development in S&T; anticipate potential impacts to society (economic, social and environmental); and
Highlight emerging opportunities and threats.
Among the Major Disruptive Sciences and Technologies that we should see, detect, sense, and know more about include Basic Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Biotechnology, Neuroscience, Nanotechnology and New Materials, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Sensorization and the Internet of Things, Circular Economy, Conflict and Disruptions, Dynamics of technological change, and Impact studies esp. on Inequality.
The document also suggests significant drivers of change and enablers, and provides insights and reflections on plausible STI development paths that will impact on the aspirations of the Filipino people and development of the nation towards 2050.
Its 12 key operational areas include the Blue Economy, Governance, Business and Trade, Digital Technology/ Information and Communications Technology, Science Education and Talent Retention,
Food Security and Nutrition, Health System, Energy, Water, Environment and Climate Change;
Shelter, Transportation, and Infrastructure; and Space Exploration.
Azanza stressed how the Philippines is at the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world, thus the overarching need to protect our marine and coastal resources.
Labor Market Intel
Meantime, Ms. Melissa Dominique C. Guino, Project Research officer. Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Human Resources Development Foundation Inc. (PCCI-HRDF) shared the results of the study on Labor Market Intelligence Report (LMI) on the fruits and vegetable processing sector.
The study identified possible human resource development interventions and improvements within the
fruits and vegetables processing (F&V P) sector to serve as baseline data. It contains inputs from various stakeholders in the government, industry and academe in seven study areas.
Among the findings of the study are opportunities in the sector against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and an overview of skills demands and possible career development pathways in F&V P.
Additional areas to be looked into are Employee-Employer relationships, Skills gap and Improvement which includes food safety, IT, among others; and Moving forward strategies for the F&V P sector.
The study further recommends the formulation of an HR Training Plan; Improved Student Internship program; and Training on food safety standards, warehousing and logistics, among others.
Agri Innovations in India
Not the least, Mr. Nishikant Singh, First secretary, Economic and Commerce, Embassy of India Manila presented Success Stories of Agri Innovations in India which the Mindanao agriculture sector could adopt.
He described agriculture in India as an ever evolving landscape with many learnings such as
digital technology in agriculture which encompasses the value chain system with increasing efficiency including farm machinery and automation, remote satellite data, traceability technologies and digital services.
For example, 100 drones were deployed to farmers (kisan) so that they need not venture to the fields to monitor the health of their crops. There is also a website or app for farmers named “M’ Kisan” which provides easy access to vital information over mobile phones.
He described the benefits of digital agriculture such as its focus on predictive analysis and optimization of available resources, considering how land is finite, thus the need to emphasized the equation of minimizing input and maximizing output.
Congress participants were encouraged to learn more about digital agriculture in India by visiting these websites: IBEF India Brand Equity Foundation; Invest India; Digital India; and Startup India.
More strategies and ideas were put forth in the Panel Discussion Moderated by Mr. John Carlo B. Tria,
Past President, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Among those proposed were Investment promotion activities for S&T parks; Harnessing further the blue economy in Mindanao; Effectiveness of Apps in far-off areas, the “mental-inertia concept” and its comparative and competitive advantages.
“The younger people are more techy. The current farmers are aging. We need technology to modernize agriculture and promote food security. This means that we need to inspire our young people to be innovative farmers,” Mr. Tria noted.
Not the least, also recommended to transform Mindanao agriculture towards a food-secure future were Institutionalizing Inclusive Innovation collaboration for value adding and food manufacturing through S&T Parks; Harnessing Talent and Tools in Science and Technology to Innovate towards a Prosperous, Archipelagic, Maritime Nation by 2050; Utilizing the LMI reports to identify specific initiatives to promote upskilling of human resource in the food and vegetables processing sector; and learning from the success stories of Agri Innovations in India. (with a report from Engr. Romela N Ratilla, ARD, DOST-10)