Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Puma gets a kick out of PH pineapple fiber

Shoes and bags made of Puma gets a kick out of PH pineapple fiber

Soon, pop star Rihanna may go around town proudly wearing shoes fashioned out of processed pineapple fiber from the Philippines.

This after shoe brand Puma, which the Barbadian singer is endorsing and where she recently released her own shoe collection, has indicated plans to consider the product in the manufacturing of a shoe line. For this development, we have start-up company Piñatex to thank.

Puma’s Suede shoe prototype was created with natural Piñatex textile. And from the looks of it, many other companies may soon follow suit.

It took Spanish entrepreneur and designer Dr. Carmen Hijosa to realize the sustainable wealth one can extract from pineapple fiber, after going to the Philippines as part of her research project.

During the late ‘90s, Hijosa was asked by the World Bank to help upgrade the leather industry in the Philippines and enable it to send more products abroad.

As such, she became a consultant for the Design Centre Philippines.
Hijosa and her team developed ways to transform waste plant fiber into nonwoven textiles.

Despite the research and development being done in London, the company still works closely with local farmers and the national government to create the material.

“The national and local governments are trying to help the farming community with training and knowledge transfer so that they can organize themselves and make Piñatex fiber procurement a profitable and sustainable business for the farming community,” Hijosa explained.

How does it work?

Following a business-to-business (B2B) model, the company is collaborating with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LPMPC) as well as local farmers in Camarines Norte.

According to James Nacario of DA, the government helps farmers by giving decortication machines and training for free. These machines are used by farmers to remove the tough outer layer of the fiber.

After that, they sell the pineapple leaves fiber supplied by LPMPC to Piñatex.

This direct involvement in the process allows the pineapple farming communities to dictate the price of the raw materials.

The profit is then either put back into the cooperatives or used to improve their operations.

As a bonus, the by-product from decortication is usually converted into organic fertilizer or biomass, leaving nothing to waste and increasing the yield for local farmers.

Due to the lack of resources to process the pineapple fiber into water resistant textiles, the government leaves further processing to Piñatex.

The decorticated fiber is sent to a textile finishing company in Barcelona, Spain. Then, the finished goods are distributed to various fashion and accessories industries, furnishing companies, and even car and aeronautics industries.

Leather vs Piñatex

Hijosa said she wanted Piñatex to become a substitute or an alternative to leather without compromising its durability and aesthetics.

“We are working toward developing a full biodegradable Piñatex, which we hope will be in the market in 2017. We do not use any harmful substances such as PVC or animal-based substances,” said Hijosa.

Pineapple leaf fibers, being very fine, are very strong but flexible.

It is for this reason that Hijosa decided to develop the new material, applying what she learned at the Royal College of Art in London, England.

No extra land, water, fertilizers or pesticides were required to produce the material. As the members of the company like to say, no pineapples, especially no animals, were harmed in the making of their products.

The company admits that they still have a long way to go, and their R&D team continues to find innovative ways to improve the quality of the fiber. But they are undaunted.

At 63 years old, Hijosa believes that there is so much to do in the world, and developing a sustainable material like Piñatex is just one of them.

For those who want to follow in her footsteps, she has this to say: “Have a strong vision, which is good for the world and its people. Think globally, be resilient and be prepared to work very hard.”

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Impeller Ricemill to Improve Grains Recovery

First prototype of commercial unit of impeller type rice mill

The type of ricemill being used in the countryside is vital towards achieving and sustaining the government’s food self-sufficiency program, a study shows. In more specific terms, the study also shows the relevance of the type of huller used by the ricemill on particular grains.

Majority of rice varieties produced in the country are “Indica” or long grains. The physical characteristics of long grain are appropriate for impeller type of ricemill. Unlike the rubber roll machine whose husked ratio performance very much depends on the size and shape of rough rice, the impeller type of huller, with almost the same performance, works for both long and short grain samples.

Experts explain that a ricemill is composed of the huller which removes the husk and the polisher which removes the rice bran. 

Hullers may be of three types, stone disk, rubber roll, and impeller. The stone disk huller is a standard component of the conventional “cono” rice mill. It consists of two circular discs laid flat one on top of the other with their grinding surfaces facing each other. The rubber roll huller consists of a pair of rubber rollers mounted on a horizontal shaft and designed so that one roller rotates clockwise and the other counterclockwise. The impeller huller is designed based on centrifugal and Coriolis forces, whereby the paddy is thrown against the liner part of the impeller housing. 

The only available ricemills in the country are the stone disk, commonly known as “kiskisan” and the rubber roll popularly known as “cono.” On the average, the kiskisan has a milling efficiency of 50-55% compared with single pass rubber-roll cono rice mill that provides an average milling recovery of 60-63% or the multi-pass rubber-roll’s milling recovery of 63-65%. As such, a 100-kg dried paddy that passes through a kiskisan could produce only a 50-55 kg of milled rice compared with the 60-67 kg recovery of rubber-roll type rice mills.

While the rubber-roller type “cono” rice mill is very popular in the Philippines because of its good milling efficiency, this type of rice mill requires higher investment and operating cost, higher power requirement, and regular replacement of rubber rolls.

With the study conducted at the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), researchers conclude that one potential approach in improving the current milling system in the Philippines is the development of impeller type rice mill given its relatively simple hulling mechanism and good performance for long grains. The machine has a milling capacity of 230 kg/hr. Head rice recovery is 64% while for brown rice is 91%.

The first prototype of the fabricated commercial model of impeller-type ricemill is easy to install, requires a small working space, has a lower maintenance and operating cost, and has a higher milling capacity, among other advantages.

The commercial unit will be field and pilot tested in major rice producing areas in the country.

The study on the impeller compact ricemill is one of the Council’s initiatives to improve the state of R&D in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources sectors. This is in keeping with its commitment under DOST’s Outcome One: to provide science-based know-how and tools that will enable the agricultural sector to raise productivity to world-class standards.

Friday, November 25, 2016

DIGITAL ECONOMY: How Can Small Business Lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

By Francis Sollano

It was at the dawn of 18th century that we learned to harness the power of water and steam, paving way for the First Industrial Revolution. What followed this was electric power, which provided breakthroughs in mechanical production and manufacturing. Across major industries, these two industrial revolutions broke down the traditional craft-based manufacturing, introduced assembly line processing, and eventually paved the way for automation. While the Third Industrial Revolution, rooted in information technology and data synthesis, has radically changed industries globally, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is taking it a step further, bringing the digital and physical world together and accelerating change.

What can this technological revolution offer to emerging businesses and developing markets? Will technological advancement even the playing field for smaller enterprises? Can the giants innovate themselves fast enough that they can continue to supersede the emerging small and medium-sized local enterprises? Or will the Fourth Industrial Revolution transform the way we think the relationships between enterprises big and small?

Let’s start by defining what we’re talking about.

Described as the immeasurable influx of new innovations - from the higher form of artificial intelligence, cost-efficient 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, to advances in medical science - the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings together these disruptive elements, fundamentally breaking down systems and affecting  the way the majority of us live and engage in commerce. But MSMEs in particular stand to benefit the most compared to their larger counterparts.  This industrial change is forcing various industries to rethink their ‘outdated’ and ‘broken’ systems in the age of Instagram, Facebook and Uber.  These disruptive technological elements will impact enterprises beyond manufacturing and systems, and are posed to affect job creation and market viabilities.

In the midst of that, entrepreneurs have an opportunity to lead - by building their own solutions or working with the giants to change how they do things. What’s getting in the way of small businesses being able to lead the way for industry?

Collaborating for Stronger Infrastructure

While the Fourth Industrial Revolution leads us to unprecedented technological innovation, ASEAN SME’s still lack the ability to access big data infrastructure.  Moreover, weak performance of SMEs over the past years is attributed to the information and technology gaps and difficulties in accessing investment-heavy production technologies.  A study by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in 2013 reveals that ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2010-2015 had limited impact on facilitating SMEs access to data infrastructures, information, market and human resource developments and technology.

These innovations can only be fully benefitted by small and medium enterprises (SME’s) if the proper technological and physical infrastructure are set in place.  The success of the SME sector across the ASEAN region lies heavily on the support awarded to it by private and public partnerships.  Having to leverage these innovations will require the collaborative effort of scientists, larger manufacturers and creatives to share the same vision of bringing innovation to the streets, and ultimately drive regional and global economy and solidify inclusive growth.  It is an imperative that governments understand the need to prioritize SME development to promote inclusive economic growth across the ASEAN region.

"The definition of “excellent service” is now more fluid than ever; for example, consumer behaviors are now shifting greatly towards mobile networking and data coverage."

Innovating Customer Relationships for the Digital Age

As collaborative efforts are still on their way for emerging SMEs in ASEAN, the introduction of successful start-ups in the region is an opportunity for our enterprises to succeed as second-mover innovators.  The success of global digital platforms are learning opportunities for SMEs and emerging enterprises to enrich their customer’s experience, further product research and development, strengthen cost-effective sales and marketing strategies, and improve product distribution and logistics.

Martha Sazon, senior vice president for Globe myBusiness shares that unlike other consumer markets, for SMEs, excellent service and great customer experiences are a must because every second where communication lines falter, business opportunities are lost. The definition of “excellent service” is now more fluid than ever; for example, consumer behaviors are now shifting greatly towards mobile networking and data coverage.  SMEs, in order to capture their niche and selected markets, have to design their businesses and models to be receptive towards these platforms and channels.

Adapting to the New Labor Market

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have started to replace existing jobs.  This phenomenon is already extending to vocations that used to seem out of the reach of computer intelligence, including law practice, screenwriting, art and fashion.

In the face of this, small businesses must reexamine the roles that they offer - as well as the roles that they as businesses can play in the market of knowledge and services. By analyzing these trends, we will be able to understand employment opportunities for emerging business and adapt new skill sets required for these emerging SMEs to succeed.  Several studies have shown that by the next 20 years, majority of the jobs we know now will be drastically altered by technological developments.  The academe and employment sector therefore have important roles to play in forecasting these job trends and to prepare the necessary human capital. The Philippines, among others, have to prepare its soil as a fertile training ground for start-up entrepreneurs and job-seekers in managing and growing their businesses, while benefitting from technologies.

While SMEs occupy the largest chunk of registered businesses in the Philippines and within the ASEAN region, it is still undeniable that small businesses will have challenging times grappling with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Yet the strength of SMEs is their ability to be adaptive to varying economic climates as compared to larger competition.  

It is timely for this topic to be discussed in greater depths in the coming Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) come November 24 - 26, 2016 in Bohol, Philippines.  OCEAN is a biennial gathering in the Philippines that brings leaders across sectors to connect, discover new ideas, and shape a more creative and innovative future together.  Leaders across industries will discuss and aim to understand these radically changing entrepreneurial environments and uncover opportunities for SMEs. ASEAN will be an even more dynamic business region as its leaders and emerging entrepreneurs use these technological innovations and platforms to further economic and inclusive growth.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is within our midst. It is about to impact everyone in almost all aspects of our lives. Small businesses can lead the way through the changes coming up - if they’re ready to take on both the challenges and the opportunities ahead.

This post is part of a blog series promoting Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit 2016 in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016, with the theme: The Future of Industry and Impact. There will be a session on Powering Small Business: MSMEs in the digital economy. To know more and participate, go to http://www.ocean16.asia/.

Only Inclusive Companies Will Thrive in the Digital Revolution

By Kathleen Largo

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be built within an inclusive culture, and it will start with technology.

When more people around the world have more access to mobile phones than to electricity or water, it must mean that the digital revolution has already arrived. But the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report says that it hasn’t dawned yet because the possibilities have not translated well to its supposed benefits.

The spread of digital technologies over the last 20 years has been rapid and exciting, but the broader development benefits from using these technologies are lagging behind.

Digital technologies can promote inclusion, efficiency, and innovation. When industries and organizations enhance access to digital technologies, it can accelerate growth, create more jobs, and deliver better public services in a country.

According to the report, the benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled, and influential around the world, who are better positioned to take advantage of new technologies. Although the number of internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still don’t have access. The Philippines alone is one of the fastest growing markets in terms of penetration (at 117%) for digital technologies with around 119 million mobile phone subscribers, yet our country has the sixth largest number of people who are not connected to the internet in Southeast Asia.

Decision-makers and leaders will need to adapt and catch up, but what about those with less power and capabilities?

To meet the promise of technological revolution means tapping into the innovative potential of everybody, regardless of gender, social status, and location. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, pointed out that there are four main effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on business: on customer expectations, on collaborative innovation, on product enhancement, and on organizational forms. The challenge now is in making technology more accessible and more inclusive so that nobody will get left behind.

What can businesses do to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution?

1. Turn ‘overwhelm’ into ‘opportunity’

Game-changing innovations create new customer expectations. According to Trendwatching.com’s Feb-March 2016 Trend Briefing, watching businesses is the counter-intuitive secret to anticipate what people will do next, rather than watching customers. 

Businesses can look at the innovations that
their customers are using now.

When dating apps were gaining popularity in a region considered as having conservative cultural values, older generations were stumped. Startup founders became younger and they built businesses that could also target themselves as customers. Soon, dating apps were flourishing in different parts of Asia. Customers showed loyalty to apps launched abroad but because local startups understood their customer better, there was a shift in received value and reputation.

Because most of these apps rely on the human need to connect, social networking platforms play a big role in shaping the customer’s expectation. A lot of the tech giants are turning into philanthropy because they realized that technology can also benefit advocacy. It can be overwhelming to find out that 100,000 of your intended customers are at risk of getting HIV, but because you know where to find them, it’s just a matter of meeting them where they already are and continue providing your service.

2. Prepare, partner, and pioneer

Your company’s corporate strategy is often boxed in frameworks and written on hand-me-down templates. To thrive in the fourth industrial revolution, creative new business strategies must replace them with collaborative efforts between firms and within firms. It might involve developing long-term goals through design thinking, participating in people’s daily activities to gain local insight, or challenging textbook theories and old assumptions about how different generations view the world.

Both young and old firms underappreciate the value of having relevant networks, but according to the 2015 World Economic Forum Report on Collaborative Innovation, these are important predictors of business success. Technology bridges the gap between the academe, national organizations, private companies, and government agencies because of its common language. When done correctly, innovation that is the work of partners will eventually and effectively work for others.

The pioneers get recognition, but only the strongest survive. The challenge for businesses is in keeping their competitive advantage. In this generation, nothing is as original anymore and some say that’s a good thing,  for as long as we emphasize the products of collective work and crowdsourced innovation. Improving on a technology that is already being used by 80% of our population might be considered disruptive, but when you want to solve the problem and ask why 20% is not using it, then the solution becomes more inclusive.

3. Improve access to existing tech

Physical products and services can now be enhanced with digital capabilities that increase their value. One such example is the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Last June, Samsung hosted a forum in Washington, D.C. with government and industry leaders to discuss the future of IoT. In his opening remarks, Oh-Hyun Kwon, Vice Chairman and CEO at Samsung Electronics, emphasized that the conversation around the possibilities of IoT should shift its focus from smart homes, offices and factories, towards smart cities, smart nations and a smarter world.

Businesses can enhance their products
that improve the quality of life.

IoT technologies are already influencing the way we live. But right now, they’re taking the shape of gadgets that are available only to the affluent. Businesses should consider improving accessibility to such products that can potentially improve the day-to-day quality of life for everyone, everywhere.

4. Diversify your leadership

In a Fortune 500 survey, companies provide data that the presence of women in the boardroom leads to better performance on various financial parameters like return on sales (ROS) and return on investment (ROI). WEF says it makes smart business sense to have a gender-balanced board, but there are still only 21 women in charge of Fourtune 500 companies in the United States. In a new survey by the Global Strategy Group and the Rockefeller Foundation, 1 in 4 of the Americans surveyed said that there are no women in leadership positions at their current workplaces.

Organizations have long since existed to promote and empower women from all sectors. In fact, women are behind a lot of the innovations and successes of businesses that their male CEOs can confirm. Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO of Tupperware Brands Corporation, believes that a CEO’s best investment lies in hiring more women leaders. Recruiting and promoting women in the workforce is a very straightforward injection of skills that improves the company’s ethos and its business results.

What’s next?

To have a more inclusive culture in the world of digital technologies, our leaders must concern themselves with the long-term objective of democratizing the fourth industrial revolution. The costs might be too high at the moment but all the symptoms are there for us to diagnose. It’s still more practical to replace a damaged engine than to keep fueling a worn-out one. The innovative potential of inclusivity cannot stay in sourcebooks and white papers anymore. It’s about time that more business leaders consider and act, especially if the only companies that will thrive in the next century are technology leaders that put inclusion in the forefront of their strategy.

[It] is a triple win – for the company,
family and community, and society as a whole.

- Rick Goings

This post is part of a blog series promoting Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit 2016 in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016, with the theme: The Future of Industry and Impact. There will be a session on Innovation for All: Democratizing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To know more and participate, go to http://www.ocean16.asia/.

THE FUTURE OF TALENT: The Value of Imagination in an Automated World

By Amanda Dominguez

The idea of a fully automated world can be daunting. The industrial landscape is now evolving at an exponentially faster rate than it ever has before. Computerization and digitalization are changing the workplace as more and more operational jobs are being replaced by computer programs. Customer service is performed by bots, human resources tasks such as recruitment rely heavily on algorithms, finance and accounting are self-service, and soon cars will drive themselves.

We can't help but wonder - perhaps a little nervously - what's in store for us next. How do we equip ourselves to succeed in a future where the conventional jobs that we have been preparing ourselves for will no longer exist?

First of all, we can take comfort in knowing that this is really nothing new. The industrial landscape has been impacted by science and technology for centuries, arguably for millennia. Needless to say, we've always anxiously speculated about the high-tech future (think Metropolis [1927] and Blade Runner [1982]). What's remarkable, however, is that we've constantly been proving our dystopian fantasies wrong. Broadly speaking, innovation has made the world a better place. As machines and computer programs improve operational efficiency in the workplace, we are given more time and freedom to think creatively and entrepreneurially. Think about what mechanizing the assembly line and developing the computer has allowed us to build and experience. Smartphones are providing endless opportunities for us to both shape and participate in the digital world; we can all be photographers, filmmakers, journalists, and developers.

With change and automation being the new norm, our role as humans will hinge on our ability navigate, and more importantly, drive change. Now more than ever, we need to find ways to maximize our innovative and creative potential to become key players in the global economy.

This entails disrupting traditional education by providing children with more opportunities to develop their imagination and creativity through the arts. I don't necessarily mean that the end goal is to have more artists (though this would definitely make the world a better place). The objective is to enable and empower children to exercise their creative muscles and develop their imaginations, so that perhaps, one day they will become disruptors, innovators, and inventors, defining new sources of livelihood and experiences for the global community.

This stance isn't too far-fetched. After all, we've been studying the humanities and quantitative subjects and often end up working in spaces for which we may not have been formally trained, but developed the necessary skills to perform them. For instance, I studied archaeology and became a management consultant. On the surface, this probably doesn't add up. But the discipline of breaking down archaeological sites to its component parts requires very similar skills as taking apart a business case or problem and reorganizing its data into frameworks. The same can be said about the arts and entrepreneurship; it all boils down to being able to think outside the box.

We truly are living in an exciting time where imagination and creativity are more valuable and the industrial landscape more malleable than ever. Instead of wondering what the world has in store for us, we can define it for ourselves.

This post is part of a blog series promoting Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit 2016 in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016, with the theme: The Future of Industry and Impact. There will be a session on The Future of Talent: Cultivating a New Generation of Leadership. To know more and participate, go to http://www.ocean16.asia/.

The Almost of Everything

By Adrian Bonifacio   

Data is the new oil.

This is the unofficial slogan of big data advocates. It refers to big data’s immense value once it has been refined through analytics. In this community, there is a palpable sense that big data is at the precipice of a revolution.

For those hearing the slogan for the first time, the image that big data evokes is a field comprised purely of numbers—and only statisticians are welcome. But data scientists and analytics firms don’t gather data just because they like numbers. They desire the method in the madness. They actually like pictures—the insightful images drawn up by the numbers.

Corporations and businesses usually gather and analyze data to grasp the nuances of their customer’s behavioral patterns. When and where is the best time to sell? Who will buy the most?

Government-led initiatives on data, meanwhile, revolve around transparency, mapping, recording, and improving social services. In the Philippines, there is so much potential for the country to leverage data to drive social progress, such as better weather forecasting for agriculture and disaster preparedness or the redesign of city mobility based on vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

For development practitioners such as myself, data serves as evidence of impact. We extract data to prove that a solution works well. This is where refining comes in—what qualifies as good data? What should be tracked—which numbers represent impact?

As such, refinement is an integral and crucial aspect of big data. Data that is unrefined is inefficient and even dangerous. Imagine all the decisions made by each stakeholder—ranging from policy-level that affects an entire nation to the very personal that charts a family’s future—these are transformative decisions that should not rely on unreliable or faulty data.

"Unlike oil, data is an unlimited resource. Every day, we are creating new touchpoints that can be marked and measured."

Unlike oil, data is an unlimited resource. Every day, we are creating new touchpoints that can be marked and measured.

Somewhere in a rural countryside, a farmer is hiding from the heat by wrapping her head and arms in strips of old cloth. She is harvesting spinach from her backyard. She stands up and considers whether to cook or sell the produce—and wonder when the next harvest would be. Lost to her is the importance of this moment: a data touchpoint—arguably, just as valuable a resource—has been created anew.

Given a large enough dataset, an algorithm will likely predict what happens to our farmer—what her yield would be, when is the best time to plant her spinach, whether she should cook or sell.

Big data bridges gaps in knowledge and lays out the world as a giant pattern of predictable behavior.

This is where the discussion on privacy enters. Do you know what data you are sharing? How much data are you sharing? How much of it should you share in the first place?

This is why people are unnerved when they see ads and posts in Facebook that sounds a little too similar to their Google search. How valuable is your personal data? It’s so valuable that corporations have to spend billions and billions acquiring other companies when all they really want is their data. Your data.

"While it may be the precursor to knowing the almost of everything, big data will not always spit out the exact answer you are looking for."

The 2011 film Moneyball depicts the real-life story of how data and analytics was leveraged by Billy Beane, then general manager of the baseball team, the Oakland Athletics. Beane’s challenge was how to compete against other teams with much larger budgets that could afford to put the biggest star players in their payrolls. With his staff, Beane went an unconventional route of putting together a team of undervalued and unheralded players—an “island of misfits”—based purely on a statistical model.

It didn’t matter if the guy was a confident young star on the rise or a savvy veteran with a great curveball—the question became: what was his win-share rating? What was his on base percentage? What was his salary?

The shift in mindset bucked the trend of traditional intuition-driven scouting and gave way to empirical analysis. Mid-way through the movie, Beane finally had his team of statistically sound players.

Yet they still kept on losing games. It turns out that the coach wasn’t playing the line-ups Beane drew up. Beane’s model forgot to include the coach’s stubborn refusal to venture into uncharted territory. It wasn’t until Beane forced the coach’s hand (by trading away all of the coach’s favored players) did the team start using the data-driven line-ups.Right after, the team rattled 20 wins in a row, a record-breaking achievement that carried them to the playoffs. They lost three games to two.

Data is only useful when it’s being used to drive action, otherwise it remains a jumble of numbers and text.  And there are x-factors—the coach—that remain outside the grasp of prediction.

And while it may be the precursor to knowing the almost of everything, big data will not always spit out the exact answer you are looking for. In this massive space of bits and pieces, the compelling possibilities lie deeper—it is in the discovery of answers to questions that haven’t even been asked yet.

Where do you think data will take us next? Respond in the comments below.

This post is part of a blog series promoting Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit 2016 in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016, with the theme: The Future of Industry and Impact. There will be a session on Innovation for All: Democratizing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To know more and participate, go to http://www.ocean16.asia/.

ASEAN integrating the newest economic power

By Carlo Delantar

As members of the ASEAN community, we have all heard of the joint effort for integration called - the Asean Economic Community (AEC). The AEC is an effort to work together as an economic power where a single market and production base allow for the free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labor. A region fully integrated into the global economy, the AEC could be the 4th largest economy in the world.

The AEC comprises 10 ASEAN Members – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – and each country presents a dynamic economic background. By linking up the less developed economies with the more developed ones, the AEC will catalyze more equitable economic development across the region. ASEAN has some of the highest digital adoption in the world and a large population of youth under 30. How can this favor continuous inclusive integration around the region?

Many countries are now trying to ‘leapfrog' from newly developing countries towards becoming technologically advanced ones. Brick and mortar businesses are constantly learning to adapt with new technologies and keep up with the rising digital disruptions in their respective industries. Infrastructure-wise, this has given the AEC an advantage to adjust as part of an integrated world in an accelerated pace. With more than 67 million households in ASEAN states becoming part of the “consuming class,” we see a strong shift towards modernization.

In the Philippines, there are numerous initiatives from all sectors. The  Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Ideaspace Foundation (Ideaspace) recently launched the QBO Innovation Hub. QBO aims to link innovators, explorers, investors, academic institutions, start-up mentors, funders and enablers as well as a broad spectrum of partners and stakeholders from both public and private sectors to convene in constructive interaction. It also serves as an avenue for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to collaborate and explore opportunities that disruptive technologies can offer.

Another initiative is the Philippine’s first Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) shared service facility in Bohol. A project funded by the The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Bohol Island State University (BISU),  and the Department of Science and Technology, this collaboration aims to provide local manufacturers, designers and artists to prototype innovations and inventions. With the help of technology, FabLab provides grassroots communities translate concepts into reality.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution[2] presents AEC a myriad of challenges to keep up with global competition. For instance, local brick and mortar businesses are under pressure to analyze all data attributed to their respective industries to keep up with global businesses that are now targeting their region. As the general population moves towards digital connectivity, metrics can be easily measured and analyzed, providing greater efficiency and accuracy in the pursuit of doing better business.

With all these rising concerns, countries in of AEC have created forums and conferences tackling regional disruption and what is needed to be competitive in the global scene. The Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit to be held in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016 aims to address this topic for the Philippines specifically the breakout session aptly called: The Next Economic Power: Navigating the ASEAN Collaboration.

This post is part of a blog series promoting Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit 2016 in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016, with the theme: The Future of Industry and Impact. There will be a session on Innovation for All: Democratizing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. To know more and participate, go to http://www.ocean16.asia/.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Moving Towards a Convergent Government

By Kevin dela Cruz

The Arrival of Convergence

In our connected environment, governance has been of utmost importance given the increased citizen demand for leadership accountability especially in prioritizing the citizen voice in the policy agenda and for the immediate cases, elevating their concerns directly to the government offices given their varying social needs. After all, the government is not just meant to organize the system of leadership in country, but also to commit itself to serve only the citizens who shaped the government to begin with. In my work as an advocate for good governance, whenever I am given the chance to share my personal experience as a government collaborator and worker, I always emphasize the power of an active citizenry and multi stakeholder engagement in improving the agencies’ public service delivery.  

In the context of East Asia, the combined challenges of the different cooperating countries have been increasing in complexity. From the recent territorial and migration issues, such discussion points placed in the pedestal by the different governance bodies required an even more push for convergence by not just the public stakeholders, but also the private stakeholders. When the public sector comes up with a policy statement, the rest of the stakeholders would now need to have a set of contributed interventions and mechanisms to make the work of governance spread out down to the level of an ordinary citizen. The government now does not have the monopoly of all the development public affairs. The call for collaborative solutions matter now more than ever.  

The Challenge of Convergence

Despite the rise of digital technology to facilitate convergence, there are prevalent issues that impede us from developing such collaborative solutions. We have been facing several challenges giving reference to the three pillars of good governance namely transparency, accountability and participation.

First, with the rising concern of financial integrity in the public and private sectors, transparency has been a constant call of the general public to share the information needed for multi-sectoral validation. This can also be applied to the monitoring of document trails in the enactment of certain guidelines or policies within a certain structure in the two such sectors.

Second, when organizations start to determine gaps regarding work efficiency, there is a greater demand for leadership accountability in establishing individual initiatives in addressing such gaps. There are incidences wherein when cases are filed in the local courts, the accused leaders tend to use their political power as leverage to evade the regular judicial process.  

Third, given the fundamental human right of self expression, citizens might have been given the opportunity to voice out both their concerns and recommendations to government authorities through community dialogues and bottom-up initiatives. But, such initiatives have not been considered fully in the drafting of the actual policy, instead the political motivation comes first in the final document.  There might be significant obstacles along the way, but there exists notable bright sparks that continue to light up the path in connecting institutions to work for national development.    

The Hope of Convergence

With the rise of government service integration to different digital channels, the general public, along with the partner sectors, have been given more opportunities to engage and to work with the government through direct services such as registration processes and social protection programs, and through public policy information gateways such as the open budget and advocacy initiatives.

Speaking of human resource processes, the Bagumbayani Initiative is a government recruitment advocacy program that seeks to enable young people to work for government. Founded by seven young public professionals, they tapped a job recruitment web portal (Kalibrr) to consolidate all the latest work openings in the different public agencies. They have organized social media campaigns and school caravans to encourage the new graduates to share their skills and talents in public service work. Through this, over a thousand job matches were delivered to the agencies given this innovative effort. Indeed, this is a remarkable example of how youth and private sector collaboration can improve governance.

Another example is the CheckMySchool program of the Affiliated Networks for Social Accountability – East Asia Pacific. Given the need for adequate response for the delivery of school facilities by all citizens in Asia, this program has been recognized by the local governments of selected East Asia countries as a mechanism for social accountability and citizen participation in the local communities through service delivery monitoring. To give a brief run through of the process, local organized groups will be trained to become citizen monitors of particular school units in the community.

Then, in collaboration with the local education department, the monitors will be conducting a routine checking of all the school materials and facilities such as tables, chairs and text books through a data collection sheet. Once all the checking has been done, data will be consolidated and analyzed to be presented to the local government executive in a roundtable discussion. The goal of the conversation is to come up with policy or program resolution to the identified problems by the citizen groups. The private sector groups in the community then makes their collaborative contribution with the identified resolutions depending on their current corporate social responsibility priorities. This is truly multi-sectoral governance in action.  

The Technology of Convergence

If the central aim of technology is to continuously improve one’s ways and approaches of doing services, there is a significant amount of material that the government and the other state actors can use to improve regional and local governance. There are three ways to harness this namely information organization, public ownership, and integrated evaluation.

Information organization refers to the deliberate communication of policies, guidelines and protocols catering to targeted stakeholders. It is not enough to just use open source to make the original documents accessible, instead such documents would be more useful if the technicalities indicated would be more palatable to its readers. We would like to use technology as a means to make the macro understanding a micro concern that can be acted upon by the informed and educated partner for change.

Public ownership points out to the crucial role of public inquiry and involvement in coming up with more directed and relevant governance decisions. Solutions can’t just be found in an expert’s desk review and in a leader’s round table discussions. Through technology, public interaction is a must in defining a community’s local development plan given the various perspectives available in our connected world. This is a power that any leader can use to craft a more inclusive environment for all.

Integrated evaluation is a means to systematize accountability systems with all the convergent projects and innovations conducted both in the real and digital streams. The fast-paced feedback that the governments along with the other sectors receive each day should be reciprocated by a united stakeholder response. All the data received should all be accounted for and received through a common digital receptacle through technology. This is perhaps where we can all base not just all government innovations, but the innovation that all of us can be involved in.

This post is part of a blog series promoting Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions (OCEAN) Summit 2016 in Bohol on November 24-26, 2016, with the theme: The Future of Industry and Impact. There will be a session on Collaborative Governance: Solving Problems beyond Private and Public. To know more and participate, go to http://www.ocean16.asia/.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

DA-BSWM Holds SLM Training to Mitigate Effects of Drought

The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) and the Malaybalay Project Team have gone hand in hand in conducting training on Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project and initial establishment of techno demonstration site held at the Loiza’s Pavilion, Malaybalay City Bukidnon last November 7-11, 2016.

According to its National Project Director, Dir. Silvino Q. Tejada, this five-day training is under the project entitled “Implementation of the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Practices to Address Land Degradation and Mitigate Effects of Drought” which was made possible through the partnership of Global Environment Facility (GEF5) and United National Development Program (UNDP).

"When we say SLM we are talking about the use of land and water resources for the production of goods to meet human needs while ensuring the long-term productive potential of resources and maintenance of environmental function. The keyword here is sustainable dahil kung hindi natin ito gagawing sustenable mauubusan ng resources ang mga susunod na henerasyon," Dir. Tejada underscored.

The training is designed for the recipients of the project including the Silae United Agrarian Reform Cooperative (SUARC), Provincial and City Agriculture Office, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). It aims to provide an in-depth knowledge on SLM related topics especially on how to manage land degradation in sloping areas. 

In line with this, DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol  wants to make the upland families as forest caretakers for his Agro-Forestry Program, a project that targets to employ residents in upland areas to monitor a designated area planted to fruit-bearing tree species. 
According to him, this will help in achieving his aim for a paradigm shift in DA’s programs and priorities to address adverse repercussions of climate change in the agri-fisheries sector which affect food supply in the country.

Moreover, with the supervision of ATI Training Center 10, the participants were able to visit the E &N farms at Purok 6, Lalawan, Linabo, Malaybalay City to showcase a successful farm area that adopts SLM practices. They also had a hands-on training and participatory workshop on farm planning at the three-hectare corn-based techno demonstration site located at Barangay Silae, Malaybalay City.

According to Provincial Agricultural Officer, Engr. Alson G. Quimba, everyone must work together and help each other for the preservation of the soil in order to become a successful model to nearby barangays and municipalities in Bukidnon.

As part of the project, similar training shall also be conducted in Brgy. Tadoc, Abuyog, Leyte on December 4-7, 2016. (Amelia M. Fermia, Project Assistant III)

Monday, November 14, 2016

PRDP Subproject Advances Coffee Farmers’ Livelihood And Production Method

Kalinga coffee farmers are now more impelled in their production as they await the release of funding assistance from the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP).

The fund amounting to P14.8 million is intended for the Kalinga Integrated Coffee Processing and Marketing Enterprise project.

The funding assistance from DA is expected to ultimately improve the production of coffee beans in the highlands which has been undergoing a few tweaks under the supervision of PRDP.

According to Maximo Wallis, chair of Dupligan Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (DUFAMCO)—the lead proponent group of the subproject, coffee trees usually share soil nutrients with removing unwanted vegetation thriving under them.
But, after attending several trainings by the PRDP, co-op members became conscious of this drawback.

“Experts from the PRDP suggested we totally uproot weeds and even the coffee seedlings from dropped ripe berries because it will compete with the soil nutrients intended for the productive trees,” Wallis explained.

With funding support from DA and improved production methods, the proponent is expecting better buying price.

According to Wallis, coffee farmers in the province currently sell their dry processed unsorted green coffee (the industry name for raw, unroasted coffee) to local buyers or traders who dictate the price. Traders in Tabuk for instance buy a kilo of green coffee from farmers at P80.00 only.

Under the proposed enterprise, green coffee beans will be sold by farmers to the cooperative per kilo at P83.00, P86.85, and P92.50 for dried, modified and wet method respectively.

Wet-processed coffee is a relatively new method which removes the four layers around the bean resulting to a fruitier flavor.

The process involves submerging the berries in water. Once a berry floats, it is rejected. It is then sorted and cleaned, using a machine to remove the pulp, and then dried.
The drying process is simpler which involves naturally drying the cherries while the beans and all its layers are still intact. For this, the cherries need to be evenly dried for four weeks.

After processing it may be sold to the trading center at P93.00 (dried) P105.00 (modified) and P115 (wet) per kilo. Expected institutional wholesale buyers include the Philippine Coffee Board, Philippine Coffee Alliance, Holsum Food Products and Nestlé.
To date, members can produce 450 metric tons of fresh beans annually, but according to Wallis, the funding will definitely encourage the members to improve the quality and volume of production.

He added that several of his members are already planting seedlings to increase the volume of production.

“Our members get seedlings from the provincial offices of DA and Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Wallis said, adding that majority of his 626 members have their own coffee plantations now.

The coffee enterprise will be managed as a cooperative where dividends and patronage refunds will be distributed. Part of the expected fund will be used to construct a trading post, while bulk of the budget will be used to finance the cost of production of their regular and affiliate members.

Once in full throttle, the enterprise is expected to help spur the coffee production as a major economic activity in the province.

According to Provincial Agriculturist Domingo Bakilan, Kalinga was considered a top producer of coffee in the country from the 1970s to the 1980s. Thru the years, it was overtaken by other provinces and currently ranks seventh nationwide.

Bakilan, who is also the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit Head of PRDP, added that coffee shops in the province have started with the growing popularity of coffee drinking even among the younger generation.

“This opens up more opportunity and will definitely help generate income for the local farmers,” he said. 

Source: http://www.da.gov.ph/index.php/media-resources/news-release/2016-news-release/8676-prdp-subproject-advances-coffee-farmers-livelihood-and-production-method


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