DOST sees latent wealth in Apayao’s natural resources

LUNA, Apayao — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) sees promise in this landlocked, highland province in terms of product development, redounding to economic, and even tourism, growth, its chief has said.

“In terms of tourism, the province of Apayao has a big potential in attracting tourists. We just have to establish the market and your products will surely market your province,” DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said at the opening of the Regional Science and Technology Week that was held here on Oct. 21-25.

Dela Peña noted that Apayao has 286,000 virgin forests, which can be sources of materials for developing medicines.

He said there is hidden wealth in Apayao, which has a total land area of 441,335 hectares, much of it used as farmlands.

The DOST has programs that locals could access to improve their micro, small, and medium enterprises, dela Peña said, citing as an example the so-called SET-UP, for small enterprise technology upgrading program, which provides financial, technical, and marketing support to DOST-supported industries, especially in the countryside.

The department also has the “ONE-STORE,” an online shopping market for the public, where DOST-assisted enterprises can showcase and market their products at wholesale prices.

“The DOST is initiating to bring technologies and innovations to far-flung areas, and Apayao’s rich natural resources will be developed through technology,” DOST-Cordillera Director Nancy Bantog told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

The administration of Apayao is keen on developing the province’s tourism potential.

“We are eyeing to develop tourism products. This will be our focus in the next 10 years because definitely, this will help boost tourism in our province,” Governor Elias Bulut Jr. said on the sidelines of the weeklong DOST celebration here.

“We are looking forward to this development—to put up one industry. Through this, we can further help our constituents economically, empowering their livelihood,” he added.

Bulut said the Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) in Apayao serves as an avenue for young and aspiring entrepreneurs and scientists to exchange ideas on innovations.

Earlier, Apayao’s tourism officer, Rebecca Mamba, said Apayao is rich in natural resources, especially caves that have not been explored and promoted, and waterfalls that can be used for eco-tourism.

“In terms of pasalubong items, we are rich in raw materials. We harvest banana, pineapple, cassava, corn, coffee, rice, vegetables. What we lack is technology,” she pointed out.

Mamba said despite their rich natural resources, the people of Apayao cannot market their products well nor attract tourists without “proper knowledge” and technology./Pamela Mariz Geminiano (PNA)