On Technology Development :
The research agency that virtually turned Taiwan around from an agrarian to an industrialized economy suggests that the Philippines should put up a similar agency that can get technologies take off from the shelves. The Philippines may derive a model from Taiwan in having established in 1973 the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), which widely bridged the gap needed in technology commercialization.
ITRI told a Congressional Commission on Science, Technology, and Engineering (Comste) forum that the US technology model (of the academe collaborating with industries) may not work in Asian countries like Taiwan and the Philippines. But the ITRI model may work too for the country as much as it did in Taiwan. US companies are very big and have the capability to do research through links with the university. ITRI is like something in between to get the universities to work with industries. Such institution, should be run like a private enterprise, although it may receive seed money from government.
Comste said that government has been studying the setting up of an institution that will enable the country to develop niche products that have high commercial potential. And ITRI may just lead the way. We may set up an R&D institute that’s partly government and partly private. This may need legislation. The role of government is basically to set incentives, maybe give some grants, some tax breaks. Essential to making research institutions meet private enterprises’ needs for technology is a law that allows government-funded R&D works to be owned and patented by researchers themselves. Comste said that to start off with a similar ITRI agency, government may pass a law converting the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) into a profit-earning corporation. ASTI at present is one of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DoST) seven-research institutes. While earning a small profit, ASTI remits much of its earnings to government. In my own personal view, I would probably start small and consider ASTI which is now focused on ICT (Information Communication Technology) and electronics to “corporatize”. Their mandate can cover many areas, not only ICT. Because it is advanced science and technology, it can also be on biotechnology and nano technology.
As Taiwan has been beefing up its R&D budget, which is now approaching three percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the country should devote more budgets for this from its present minuscule 0.12 percent of GDP, many times less than that of Taiwan, a lot smaller country of 23 million people, in the 1950s-1960s, the Philippines had a higher per capita income. Taiwan with its investments in R&D, ninth biggest in the world, has experienced an economic miracle that has made it sixteenth in rank in global trade and foreign exchange reserve fifth in the world. The Philippines still has an edge in being an English speaking-country and in having many natural resources, unlike Taiwan that only has its people as resource. However, its sole wealth in people, enabled Taiwan to tap its greatest potential in developing high-technology industries. ITRI, an agency with more than 5,000 researchers and more than 1,000 Ph.Ds, has enabled the spin-off of many technology companies.
The emergence of world’s biggest wafer foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.,
is partly attributed to it. ITRI has invested more and has helped growth and birth of 255 companies under its Open Lab. These are Taiwan’s world market share in technology products: soho router, 93 percent; WLAN, 90 percent; Ethernet LAN switch, 84 percent; and cable CPE, 80 percent.
On Melamine Scare : Gov’t should strengthen dairy industry
The global impact of the melamine scare should push the government to reexamine its dairy program and accelerate its milk self-sufficiency target, which is originally set for 2018. The National Dairy Authority (NDA) set 2018 as the target for 100 percent milk sufficiency even as the discovery that large inventories of milk produced in China were laced with melamine, a chemical ingredient in the manufacture of plastics, has cast doubts on the integrity of imported milk. NDA is targeting to secure 11,000 dairy cattle in the next five years in its bid to raise production to 63 million kilos of milk yearly.Total national production is only five percent of demand, and the country’s entire population of milking cows is a pittance at 15,000 head. The annual production, mostly from cooperatives, is only 13 million kilos, while a big Thai dairy cooperative produces one million kilos a day.
A foremost backer of a strong dairy industry was former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, who launched her White Revolution years ago to bring in Indian cows and bulls to propagate higher yields of milk and meat in the country. The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) also developed in vitro fertilization (IVF) to propagate better breeds, including some from Hungary, to increase the number of livestock for milk production. Dairy farmers have complained that there is little incentive for milk production even though there are large pasture areas in the country that have not been adequately exploited.
Industry players have said milking cows could increase milk production by consuming moringa or malunggay leaves, as proven by the experience of Nicaraguan farmers who secured an increase in milk by 45 percent. Malunggay could be intercropped with fruit-bearing trees to ensure that farmers would earn more. Experts said that with enough malunggay in pasture areas and with abundant grass sufficient for 10 cows per hectare, milk production could increase significantly.Some enterprising dairy farmers have proven that with enough pasture land; a cow can produce 15 liters of milk a day. More pregnant cows mean more milk, and cows can produce milk from seven to 10 years. They give birth on the eighth month and can get pregnant again after three months. Experts said small farmers all over the country could participate in the dairy improvement program through proper training and education on the long-term benefits of milk production.
The government needs to invest at least P500 million annually to enhance the local dairy industry’s capacity to produce milk and help lessen the country’s dependence on milk imports. The country imports between US$ 500 million to US$ 600 million or P25 billion worth of milk and other milk products annually. About 99 percent of milk and dairy products available in the Philippine market is imported, while only one percent is produced locally.The country’s dependence on imported milk and milk products makes the country vulnerable to the entry of toxic food products. Should the government “diversify” its focus and invest in the local dairy industry’s capacity to produce milk, the country could ensure the safety of dairy products in the market. The annual investment, will cover the importation of milk producing animals such as cows, which is estimated to cost P70,000 per head. The P500 million per year investment can easily be recovered by lessening the country’s spending on imported milk. Only a small portion of the Department of Agriculture’s budget is allotted to the local dairy industry, with the bulk of expenditures focused on rice sufficiency and operating expenses. Food security advocates, on the other hand, said the influx of contaminated food into the country could be traced to the Philippines’ trade policies. According to the Task Force Food Sovereignty, the trade liberalization strategy adopted in the early 1980s has caused the “inevitable toxic food dumping” at present.