Photo shows prototypes of bamboo and abaca-made hands-free disinfectant dispenser connected to a foot bath. Forest Products Research and Development Institute chief Romulo Aggangan says these prototypes will still be improved. (Photo courtesy of Romulo Aggangan
MANILA -- The Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) is currently working on developing hands-free disinfectant dispenser connected to a foot bath using bamboo and abaca.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday, FPRDI chief Romulo Aggangan said more than PHP3 million was allotted for the project that would run from September 2020 to August 2021.

The FPRDI, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), targets to produce 100 units for distribution.

Aggangan said the target beneficiaries of initial trial production runs are select offices of the Los Baños Science Community, such as DOST Region 4-A office, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, University of the Philippines - Los Baños, as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, and the local government of Los Baños.

The DOST offices in Bicutan and Quezon City, and select rural health centers in Laguna, will also receive the product, he added.

"The project promotes the use of more sustainable and environment-friendly raw materials like bamboo and abaca while limiting possible sources of virus contacts, by hand and foot, which are important in the fight against Covid-19," DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said in a message.

Utilizing and promoting these raw materials for the manufacture of different products for the “new normal” will benefit the local bamboo and abaca growers, processors, and small and medium entrepreneurs, dela Peña added.

"Expanding value for bamboo and abaca will mean continuous propagation and harvesting of plant materials, which will not only imply income for growers and manufacturers but also contribute to the ecological balance of the ecosystem," project leader Flor Samiano said.

The allocated budget, Aggangan said, will be used for the design and production of prototypes, and the production of the total 100 units. Six prototypes will be fabricated -- three for pump and three for spray type.

"The six prototypes will be replicated into three for durability design. Then we will improve the designs," he said.

The FPRDI will also conduct training for the two adoptors who committed to producing the 100 units.

These adoptors are the BalaiKamay, which employs local artisans from Rizal, and The Bamboo Company, a social enterprise startup.

Aggangan clarified that should there be other firms interested to produce this product, they can sign a memorandum of agreement with the FPRDI.

"Company adoptors, upon selecting which among the different prototypes developed have more potential in the market, can mass produce and sell it," he said. (PNA)