GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 July)– Six cooperatives and enterprising groups in Region 12 have received around P3.2 million worth of grants from the national government for the upgrading and expansion of their livelihood ventures.
The grants were separately released by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as part of the implementation of their assistance programs for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region.
Dr. Zenaida Hadji Raof-Laidan, DOST-12 director, said they released around P1.227 million worth of financial assistance to three Sarangani associations for technology upgrading, purchase of machines and equipment.
She said Ded Libon De Lasang Association received P300,000 while the Malapatan Food Processing Association and the Kawas Seaweeds Processing Association got P427,000 and P500,000, respectively.
The release of the livelihood grants was facilitated and supported by Strengthening Technological Advancement for Reforms project under the office of former Sarangani Vice Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon, who is now the provincial governor.
Under DTI’s Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program, three cooperatives in Region 12 also received a combined P2 million worth of assistance for the expansion of their business ventures.
Ibrahim Guiamadel, DTI-12 director, said the Sugarcane Planters Association of Tinaungan in President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat received a mechanized sugarcane crusher with four stainless vats of 800 liters capacity each worth around P350,000.
He said the assistance will mainly benefit 25 sugarcane farmers in the area.
The program also approved the acquisition of a solar dryer and seal machine worth P650,000 by the Danlag Women’s Association based in Tampakan town in South Cotabato, he said.
Guiamadel said the new equipment will be used for the production of herbal food products and their packaging.
The official said the Malapatan Food Processors Association based in Malapatan town in Sarangani received P1 million for a customized food production and packaging facility support for seven micro-enterprises with a total of 25 members.
Guimadel said the three groups were among the initial beneficiaries of the SSF program in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The DTI central office has set aside around P700 million for the SSF program’s implementation this year.
The three-year program aims to enhance the competitiveness of local priority industry clusters through the use of quality and productivity-enhancing machinery and equipment.
It will provide the necessary equipment to enterprising associations, cooperatives and industry groups of micro, small and medium enterprises that are experiencing operational bottlenecks due to inefficient, inappropriate and the lack of needed machinery.
The priority industries clusters covered by SSF program are abaca, bamboo, coconut coir, pineapple, kalamansi, milkfish, tuna, seaweeds, fashion accessories, gifts, decors and housewares, metal works, renewable energy, cacao, dairy, coffee, muscovado, organic fertilizer and processed food. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)