BASCO, Batanes: The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Region 2 through the Provincial Science and Technology Office (PSTO) in Batanes officially opened the 2022 S&T Caravan on September 14.

This year's S&T Caravan theme, "Moving Advance Valuable Innovations and Development," means DoST Region 2 is pushing forward in intensifying its implementation of the programs, projects, and services to become the lead science, technology and innovation (STI) hub in Cagayan Valley.

The S&T Caravan is an annual activity with various S&T partners that aims to showcase the different programs and projects of the DoST. This will also increase their awareness and knowledge of the S&T interventions they want to avail, adopt and commercialize.

Natural science has been part of the lives of the Ivatans. This Ivatan woman has been wearing a traditional vakul, a native headgear for sunlight and rain protection made from vuyavuy palm fiber, a native plant in the province, in this undated file photo from the Batanes municipal government. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The S&T Caravan is also a platform to showcase the products of the various DoST-supported MSMEs.

In his written message, DoST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Engr. Sancho Mabborang expressed his appreciation to the province for valuing science, technology and innovation.

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The activity was led by the PSTO Batanes Provincial Director Nora Garcia, Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco, Batanes Lone District Rep. Ciriaco Gato, and Dr. Djovi Durante, president of Batanes State College.

For many years, the PSTO continuously succeeded in bringing science and technology closer to the people of Batanes.

Many of the small businesses in the province had difficulty in maintaining their sales since customers are mainly locals. Thus, Ivatans wanted to build their own business that will help the province's local economy.

To date, there were a total of 65 firms assisted in Batanes and already funded with P41.16 million in innovative funds. Of all the active beneficiaries of the program, firms that engaged in the food industry continuously had the most adopters with a total of 66 percent of the whole beneficiaries. The remaining 34 percent goes to other priority sectors such as ICT/electronics, agriculture, metals and engineering, gifts, decors, and housewares.

The province was also awarded computer units for the installation of the Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosks (Star Books) for each beneficiary namely, Basco Central School, St. Dominic College of Batanes Inc., and Itbayat local government unit (LGU).

Star Books is an offline S&T-based educational and learning platform designed to reach those with limited or no access to S&T information resources. It aims to provide STI-based content to students and other constituents.

Furthermore, the LGUs of Sabtang and Itbayat were also awarded one set each of Rxbox. RxBox is a multi-component program designed to provide better access to life-saving health care services in isolated and disadvantaged communities.

With the continued support and close collaboration with the provincial local government and other stakeholders, the Provincial Science and Technology Office of Batanes, together with its national and regional offices, is looking forward to a more dedicated project in serving and giving quality living to every Ivatan and Ipula (non-Ivatan) alike.