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DOST launches program to kick-start regional development on PH tropical fabrics

QUEZON CITY -- With immense potential to generate livelihood and job opportunities for many Filipinos, especially in rural areas in the country, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) launched a program to revitalize the local textile industry. This initiative aims to leverage their existing technologies and products for regional inclusive development.

As part of the 2024 Philippine Tropical Fabrics (PTF) Month celebration with the theme 'Spinning Innovations,' the DOST-PTRI held the National Textile Convention, also known as 'TELACon,' from 30-31 January at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

During the event, DOST-PTRI Director Julius L. Leano announced the launch of FRONTIER, short for Fostering the Revitalization of Nascent Textile Innovation Ecosystems in the Region. This initiative seeks to amplify regional textile innovation by strategically establishing hubs for textile fibers and yarns, alongside regional centers dedicated to natural dyes and weaving innovations thus consolidating the Institute’s efforts in the regions.

“We can examine literature, data, or economic figures related to the textile industry, but it is challenging to put them all together. Different perspectives and various sets of numbers are presented. It makes one wonder about the true extent of the impact of the textile industry on the Philippine economy. As we delve into these numbers, one thing is certain: you cannot deny that textiles and clothing are essential to our basic needs,” said Dir. Leano.

He shared that under the FRONTIER program, the DOST-PTRI deploys sets of its existing technologies through different sub-programs, namely: Natural Textiles Technology Bamboo Textiles PH, Natural Dyes, and Philippine Silk.

“We are bold enough to have already targeted our regional clothing and textile research innovation agenda. Regional, it means the context of each region is more specific to their own domains,” said Dir. Leano.

Dir. Leano shared that they have targeted one regional clothing textile research innovation agenda, one per region by 2024, one regional development council resolutions to adopt this clothing research agenda by 2025. Additionally, the targets include two large-scale textile companies to be engaged in 2024, one textile activity per province by 2025, one State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) engagement per province by 2026, one textile firm engaged or developed by 2024, and one textile innovation center per region by 2028.

“Quite a tall order, a self-imposed one, but these are expressions of operation of what we want to happen is that jobs are created, there are values addition and most importantly, an overall improvement in the vitality of the overall economic activity in the region,” said Dir. Leano.

Implementation through Regional Innovation Centers

In his presentation, Dir. Leano shared how the FRONTIER program will lead, enable, and amplify the efforts of the DOST-PTRI in the region and develop further the innovation ecosystem on Philippine Tropical Fabrics.

“Through collaboration and democratizing not just access to facilities but the opportunity for innovation, we can empower not just those within Metro Manila but also those in the regions that fuel and provide the material that defines uniquely our Philippine textile,” said Dir. Leano.

He shared some of the existing initiatives of the DOST-PTRI, particularly in the regions. These include the Natural Fiber Textiles Technology, Bamboo Textiles PH, Natural Dyes, and Philippine Silk.

Dir. Leano explained that the Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center or RYPIC has again started the ball rolling. It has established one each in Iloilo City, Iligan City, Isabela, and in Cotabato City. He explained that the output from these innovation centers is ready-to-weave yarns.

“At the end of the day, we have weavers on the ground, why the yarns must come all the way to Manila and then bring it back to them to the communities, why it cannot do it on the ground. And all of these have implications not just for trade and mobility but also for sustainability,” said Dir. Leano.

He also highlighted SEDA Pilipinas, another platform that has its own program and project but those are heavy as far as the engagement of the community is concerned.

“We have different hubs located in various locations. The silk innovation hub in Kalinga is already operational, the Silk Innovation Hub in Negros will be inaugurated towards the end of February of this year, and Silk Research and Innovation Center, the only innovation center of the DOST-PTRI outside of its Bicutan campus is already operational and working in our technology center in Misamis Oriental,” shared Dir. Leano.

Dir. Leano said that the FRONTIER program was fortunately funded under the DOST’s General Appropriations Act for 2024 on its maiden year of operation. He revealed that in 2024, DOST-PTRI will be launching the Natural Textile Fiber Innovation Hub, one each in Catanduanes, Leyte, and Negros Occidental.

Also, this year, still funded by the DOST-PCAARRD GIA, Bamboo Textile Innovation Hub in Lagangilang in Abra; Alaminos, Pangasinan; and Maramag, Bukidnon will be launched.

Regional Handloom Weaving Innovation Centers will soon rise in six more locations across the Philippines. One each in Vintar, Ilocos Norte; Mangatarem, Pangasinan; Paracelis, Mountain Province; Signal Village in Taguig City; Maragondon, Cavite; Pandan, Catanduanes; and San Remigio, Antique.

Dir. Leano said that hopefully, in the middle of the year, DOST-PTRI will also be launching another DOST-funded Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center in Kabacan, Cotabato, the third in the Philippines and the first in Mindanao.

Meanwhile in 2024 again, the Natural Dyes Hub will be built in Camarines Norte; Talisay, Negros Occidental; and Maragondon, Cavite.

“The FRONTIER program is a rallying point not just for these hubs to take infusion but for us to come together,” said Dir. Leano.

Textile Academy Launch

During the TELACon, the DOST-PTRI also launched the Textile Academy which is a consolidation of the numerous training and education materials and engagement for textile topics and technology transfer efforts of all stakeholders from the government, industry, and academe.

Through this textile academy, the DOST-PTRI will also leverage its position as the premier institute in innovations for textiles to lead a responsive and inclusive research and development investment plan included in the 2023-2028 Harmonized National R&D Agenda spanning the breadth of Philippine textiles, from footwear, to smart textile finishing, Textile 4.0 and 5.0, and self-reliance posture defense through technical textiles.

Meanwhile, in his message, DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. said that the combined effect of alignment, binding, and transformation of the textile stakeholders and the textile industry is what spinning innovations is all about.

“It aligns us to the Bagong Pilipinas where a new way and new order will ensure that we make science, technology and innovation drive socio-economic transformation and where science, technology and innovation assures us the blessing of a strong, safe and sufficient future where no one is left behind,” said Sec. Solidum.

The DOST-PTRI’s TELACon gathered experts, researchers, and industry professionals. It aims to explore textile science, fostering discussions on research, technological breakthroughs, and sustainable practices within the PTF domain. This event also served as a platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange, advancing the nation's textile industry in scientific understanding and practical applications. (DOST-STII)

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Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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