DOST’S Food Innovation Centers (FICS) Gaining Ground in the Regions

The DOST’s initiative upon developing food innovation centers and conducting free food processing training. 

By Delia Delica-Gotis, ITDI S&T Media Service

The Department of Science and Technology continues to provide local food processors
with viable technological innovations through the High Impact Technology Solution (HITS) food processing equipment developed in 2014,in tandem with the Food Innovation Centers (FIC) which started business operations in some regions of the country.

Today, DOST’s Industrial Techology Development Institute (ITDI) pushes for higher efficiency of the Food Innovation Centers (FIC). To achieve this, a training program on the operation and maintenance of the five HITS food processing equipment: the water retort, vacuum fryer, spray dryer and the latest additions – freeze dryer and vacuum
packaging machine was conducted on May 4-15, 2015.

Participants were DOST regions 2, 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and NCR (National Capital Region)FIC managers and operators. They underwent a two-week training that covered
familiarization with the equipment parts and accessories, their features and functions, maintenance, and quick fixes to common equipment maintenance- related problems.

Currently operating FICs of regions 2, 8 and 11 also participated notably to share their experiences on the actual conduct of the business, suitability of the center and
efficiency of the equipment.

Trainers and resource speakers were the DOST-PMEDSO engineers and DOST-ITDI food technologists who worked together in developing and designing the equipment.

Aside from lectures, actual production or ‘hands on’ using the newly- fabricated vacuum fryer, water retort, and spray dryer stationed at the food processing pilot plant of ITDI was also experienced by the participants. They processed different food products such as fruits, vegetables, and fishes and then evaluated the products’ acceptability and taste.

After this training, more regional FICs are expected to open soon, ready to assist interested stakeholders.

Since May 2014, FPIC Davao in region11 has been operating and now serves its clients using the developed water retort, spray dryer, and vacuum fryer.

Two more followed, one in region 2 at Cagayan State University – Carig Campus in September, and another in region 8 at Eastern Visayas State University in November.

To date, these FICs had produced a variety of new food products from locally abundant raw materials using the equipment. Among these are:

Vacuum-fried okra, sweet potato, stringbeans, root crop mix, crispy pinakbet, taro, pineapple, suman and moron, and scallops.

Spray-dried products like tamarind, pomelo, calamansi, kangkong, carrot, tomato, camote, pechay, ampalaya, arroz de cafe, Volteaz 5 (guyabano, moringa, saluyot, pandan, carrots), Barinday (mussels), juice drinksdalandan- carrot-tomato and kalamansi-mangosteen-tomato.

Thermally-processed products using water retort (in bottle and pouches) – papaitan, kaldereta, adobo, round scad Spanish-style sardines, chicken arrozcaldo, longganiza, adobo rice, sisig, picadillo, biko, mutton kaldereta, mutton taosi, nata de coco, danggit gourmet.

Vacuum-packed products – dried fish and pusit, onion, garlic, peanut, malunggay leaves, smoked fish, pickled santol and ampalaya, seaweed, and choco blocks.

Nelia Elisa Florendo, project leader of the DOST-HITS equipment roll-out says, “before the year ends, fabrication of the two remaining equipment, freeze dryer and vacuum
packaging machine will be completed and these will also be installed in the FICs.”

With that, more trainings will be conducted to further enhance the efficiency of the centers.

“We train people to become efficient ‘stirring-wheels’ of local innovations especially in the regions where the learned and skilled FIC managers and operators can help propel the growth of local food industries and contribute to our national gain which is most timely with the ASEAN integration this 2015,” Florendo concluded.

This means, more FICs to rise and provide accessible food processing facilities and food-related trainings/activities to small and medium scale enterprises, starting-up businesses, and students.

Also, this provides local food processors an alternative and won’t have to depend on imported facilities or equipment which are often expensive.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s June 2015 issue. 

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