MANILA – Barako coffee farmers and processors will greatly benefit from the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center (RIIC) initiative in Calabarzon, Department of Science and Technology Region IV-A Director Emelita Bagsit said.
"Kapeng barako is the focus commodity of RIIC as this is an important commodity in the region. It would also help re-establish the branding and reintroduce barako coffee," she told the Philippine News Agency in an interview on Friday.
Barako coffee (Coffea liberica) has a strong taste and popularly grown particularly in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite.
RIIC in Calabarzon is a partnership initiative of the DOST, Department of Trade and Industry, Batangas State University (BatStateU), NEDA, PCCI, with support from USAID STRIDE. The DOST-Calabarzon has committed PHP1.4 million to strengthen this.
DOST-Calabarzon and its partner agencies eye the RIIC to be a dynamic one-stop-shop for prospective innovators in the region, with the goal of increased utilization and uptake of innovation programs and services, as well as research and development (R&D) outputs among micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
While the DOST has a NICER (Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D), Bagsit said RIIC has a broader scope.
"Both NICER and RIIC promote innovation. They can be interrelated, but there are still differences. In fact, NICER could be a sub-component of RIIC," she remarked.
Bagsit explained that NICERs focus on specific commodity or research areas that are of prime importance to the regions, such as pili nuts (Region V), vector diseases, lakes, etc. On the other hand, RIIC in Calabarzon will initially focus on coffee, but will also cater to other innovation projects.
Further, a region could have many NICERs, but can only have one RIIC.
Meanwhile, Bagsit said that part of the deliverables is to establish project roadmaps, and to make the center sustainable.
Last October 19, it was announced that RIIC, as a program, will carry the official brand, "LINC Calabarzon" or Linking Innovation Networks for Competitiveness in Calabarzon.
LINC will propagate 80,000barako coffee seedlings among identified farms. Mapping-related activities to identify key innovators in the region, according to Albert Amante, BatStateU vice president for research, and also the project leader.
Also included in the upcoming activities are inventory of assets and coffee-related resources which the DOST-Calabarzon would include in the LINC website and database.
RIICs have a virtual collaboration space and a website accessible for free. The recently-launched website, https://linccalabarzon.com, is accessible to all stakeholders who are looking for partners and resources to help support their innovation initiatives.
A Business Innovation Unit (BIU) facility will be established within the KIST (Knowledge, Innovation and Science Technology) Park, which is targeted to open by 2024.
Bagsit clarified that the BIU, sans the facility, has been operational since early 2021 through the BatStateU, since a RIIC represents the local innovation system.
"The BIU will implement activities, such as linking MSMEs and potential innovators on the programs and services of partner institutions," she said.(PNA)