The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has awarded Raw Brown Sugar Milling Company Inc. in Pamplona, Negros Oriental as this year’s National Best SETUP (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program) adoptor during the Smart Innovation for SMEs program of the National Science and Technology Week held last July 25 at the SMX Convention Center.
The award is given annually by the DOST to recognize the efforts of outstanding entrepreneurs who availed assistance from SETUP – a DOST project which aims to boost small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) productivity and competitiveness by assisting them in adopting technological innovations to improve their operations, boost product quality and productivity, and make them more competitive in the market.
“From the technology, the choice of lot, the layout of the plant, the training of our personnel and staff and marketing of our products, we owe everything to DOST,” said Atty. Alejandro Florian O. Alcantara, president and chief executive officer of the Raw Brown Sugar Milling Company Inc.
Atty. Alcantara revealed that he was once a legal counsel for a sugar association in Negros Oriental. He was invited by the board of directors to become a member of the association, but that would require him to become a sugar planter. Thus, he acquired a few hectares of land and got started in the sugar business.
“I didn’t have any knowledge about cultivating sugarcane,” he said. “My fellow directors mentored me until I became knowledgeable about the business.” From a few hectares, Atty. Alcantara now has more than a hundred hectares of sugar plantation.
In 2007, after almost 20 years in the sugar industry, he learned about the ASEAN integration which will be implemented by 2015, under which tariffs on sugar and other commodities will be reduced or totally eliminated to facilitate a free flow of goods in the Southeast Asian region.
“I think Thailand is the biggest threat to the Philippines when it comes to sugar production,” Atty. Alcantara said. “Its industry is highly subsidized; their sugar mills are very efficient,” he added.
After learning about ASEAN integration, he thought it was time to decide: Should he give up his plantation or should he innovate to add value to his product and be able to compete in the market? He chose the latter.
His first step towards innovation was establishing his own sugar mill. It was then that he came across DOST through its regional office.
In 2009, his staff underwent training for cleaner production technology of muscovado (raw brown sugar) with the Industrial Technology Development Institute, another agency under the DOST.
Another assistance from DOST came through SETUP. He was able to acquire equipment for the improvement of their production namely: a cube sugar making machine, a band sealer for the hygienic and efficient packaging of assorted muscovado products in plastic pouches, and a form fill sealing machine for the hygienic and efficient packaging of powdered muscovado in conveniently sized sachets.
With the help of these interventions, Raw Brown Sugar Milling Company Inc. was able to penetrate the foreign market with their products which are organic certified by certifiers from Italy and South Korea.
Among these are muscovado powder, muscovado rocks, and muscovado cubes. Specifically 90 percent of these products are exported.
His advice to fellow entrepreneurs: “Choose products with raw materials that can be sourced locally, ensure the quality of the products and make them affordable so that they can compete in the market.”
With science, technology and innovation, Atty. Alcantara was able to successfully turn a threat into an opportunity.
Alejandro Florian O. Alcantara’s Raw Brown Sugar Milling Company Inc. was awarded as this year’s Best SETUP adoptor during the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) National Science and Technology Week Celebration. SETUP or Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program is an initiative of DOST which supports micro, small, and medium enterprises to increase their efficiency, productivity, and product quality, make them more competitive, and contribute to the upliftment of the nation’s economy. (S&T Media Service)
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Sec. Mario G. Montejo hands the plaque and certificate of recognition to Alejandro Florian Alcantara, president and chief executive officer of Raw Brown Sugar Milling Company Inc., which was chosen as this year’s Best SETUP adoptor during the recent National Science and Technology Week from July 24-28, 2014. SETUP or Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program is an initiative of DOST which supports micro, small, and medium enterprises to increase their efficiency, productivity, and product quality, make them more competitive, and contribute to the upliftment of the nation’s economy. (S&T Media Service)