Jul 20, 2014
The Department of Science and Technology’s bet for Best SET UP Adoptor had nearly all but given up on its “great leap forward” to level up its production and competitiveness due to a seemingly overwhelming slew of problems that never seemed to stop coming its way.
However , its persistence, determination and grit which made it DOST-10’s choice as Best Regional SET UP Adoptor has rewarded it with unprecedented success such that it is now (and rightly so!) looked up as a model success story worthy of emulation in the city that was adjudged the Philippines “Most Competitive City” in 2013 by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).
Green Pastures Corporation was selected as Northern Mindanao’s best SET UP Adoptor and ranks among the Philippines five best to be recognized at the 2014 National Science and Technology Week awarding rites set forFriday, 25 July 2014 at the SMX, Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
The two year old start-up was recognized for its successful utilization of DOST’s technology interventions and technical assistance resulting in the company’s outstanding improvement in productivity, product quality and impressive market performance.
The Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP) is DOST’s nationwide strategy to encourage and assist Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to adopt technology innovations to improve their operations and boost their productivity and competitiveness.
“We chose the best SET UP Adoptor for Region 10 based on their innovation (25%), Socio-Economic Impact (25%), Track Record (17%), History of Refund rate (17%) and Uniqueness (17%),” said DOST-10 Regional Director Alfonso P. Alamban. “I am happy to inform you that ourregional winner is among the top five in the entire Philippines in the latest evaluation of all SET UP proponents in the country and we are hoping they are chosen the most outstanding SET UP Adoptor in the nation.”
“The demand for our products has risen to a point that we could no longer keep up using traditional labor-intensive or mano-mano methods,” said Reynaldo B. Paraguya, president and CEO of Green Pastures Corporation (GPC). “Fortunately for us, DOST-10 came to our rescue with the SET UP Program.”
Besides being recognized as the best SET UP Adopter in Region X, GPC was also recognized by DOST-X as the Best SET UP Adopter in the province of Misamis Oriental.
For the production of its food supplement products, DOST-X assisted GPC through SET UP by providing a soft loan to finance 35 percent of its PhP 2.8 million investment in eight units of equipment including a blister packing machine, capsule filling machine, powder packing machine, moisture analyzer, pulverizing machine, capsule polishing machine, dehumidifier and sterilizing cabinet. The loan is payable in three years.
GPC manufactures food supplements based on the humble malunggay (moringa oleifera), spirulina, and other indigenous herbs. Among its fastest moving products are Moringa Superfood, MoringaPlus Superfood, and GoProtect. With the arrival of its machines, it has now ventured into the manufacture of beverages like Moringa Gold and Moringa Silver Coffee.
Although it was only registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 2012, it has its beginnings as early as 2004 when it started as a distributor of other products.
However, the transition from a micro scale mom-and-pop operation to small industry size operations was extremely trying and there were many times when the proponents were ready to throw in the towel on the ambitious automation project.
GPC maintains its moringa farm in Baliwagan, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental while its production office is situated at B1 L13 SilverCreek Townhomes, in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City.
“Previously, we had done all our manufacturing manually using simple machines like blenders, sealers and the like,” said Felomina P. Luceno, marketing manager.
“DOST recommended not to source our machineries from outside the country because of the extreme difficulties in importing machineries,” said Mirasol A. Padillo, GPC administration and purchasing officer. “The machines had to be shipped from four origins in China (Ningbo, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Guangdong) and when they arrived in Cebu, we were aghast to find that we had to pay customs duties and brokerage fees that cost more than twice the total cost of all the machines!”
Since there were no direct shipping routes from the four Chinese ports to Cagayan de Oro, all the equipment had to be routed to Cebu and trans-shipped to Cagayan de Oro, further padding freight costs. Despite all the additional costs, however, Paraguya said the total cost they incurred was still cheaper by a third than if they had sourced their machines domestically.
“But that wasn’t the end of our problems,” said Ma. Cristita V. Dagaraga, GPC business development officer. “When we unpacked the machines, we encountered technical difficulties in operating the machine!”
They had to hire local engineers to make the equipment operational and the machines for the food supplements were finally operational by November, 2013 significantly increasing production fourfold from 120 bottles daily from the manual production to 540 with the machines.
However, the coffee powder packing machine proved particularly vexing and the technical group of formulators was just about at the end of their rope when miraculously a local engineer finally managed to operate it successfully.
“After a very trying period of adjustment, we are happy that we are now reaping the benefits of the new technology,” Paraguya said with obvious relief. “Not all enterprises which took the leap to automation in the region had been successful, which makes GPCs success all the sweeter.”
He said he knows of at least two companies similar to theirs which had abandoned their expansion projects after one got bogged down in customs (where the machine remains to this day) and another which has not ever managed to operate its machines bought at great costs locally.
Utilizing a multi-level marketing network, the company now has over 2,000 Authorized Business Centers, Mobile Business Centers and Individual Business Owners all over the country, mostly in Mindanao and the Visayas.
DOST remains optimistic GPCs success will blaze a trail for other enterprising entrepreneurs in the region who can appreciate the opportunities opened by the integration of the ASEAN market next year.
“Some 3,267 new jobs were created in Region X for 2013 as a result of our interventions,” he noted. “A total of 273 technological interventions were provided to 97 existing and 15 start-up firms in the region resulting in accumulated gross sales of PhP 222.7 million. Fifty eight enterprises and institutions in the identified priority sectors benefitted from the program and other Grants-in-Aid programs last year.”
DOST-X is also aggressively establishing additional support facilities and services in anticipation of the ASEAN integration such as the launching of its High Impact Technology Projects during the recent start of the 2014 Science and Technology Week: a Food Innovation Center, a Packaging and Labeling Center and Complementary Foods.
To complement these new facilities, DOST-X alsohas three ISO/IEC 17024:2005 internationally accredited laboratories: Chemical Testing Laboratory, Microbiological Testing Laboratory and Accelerated Shelf-Life Evaluation Laboratory.