“Whenever I have something in my mind, I will always find ways to make it happen; giving up has never been an option for me”.  – Mr. Nelson Diona of Red Gate Farm Supplies

Mr. Nelson Diona of Red Gate Farm Supplies

This motivates Mr. Nelson B. Diona, a 41-year-old entrepreneur and innovator from Brgy. Sta. Maria, Oriental Mindoro. Mr. Diona is the proprietor of the Red Gate Farm Supplies, the lone registered local manufacturer of animal feeds for hogs, poultry, cattle, and fish in the province. During his childhood years, Mr. Diona already knew that he is an innovator as he chooses to restore damaged items and explore to invent new things rather than playing with his childhood buddies. He pursued a Bachelor of Computer Science at the Ema Emits College in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, that gave him basic knowledge in electronics and automation. He usually spent his spare hours reading books and doing research which grew his fondness for animal husbandry.

At the age of 27, he ventured into raising 10 heads of cattle in their small compound to help his grandparents who also served as his parents. Later, he engaged in swine production and sold his domesticated cattle to use as starting capital.

Through attendance at several trainings, intensive research, and experiments, Mr. Diona gained skills in the formulation of various kinds of proprietary feed rations for swine. At first, the mixing of feeds is done manually using shovels wherein it took 30-40 minutes for two (2) workers to mix 10 sacks (500 kg) of feed. But Mr. Diona is still unsatisfied since the quality of manufactured feeds was compromised due to the uneven mixing process.

Weighing of chemicals of feeds and manual mixing of feeds using shovels which takes 30-40 minutes for two workers to finish 10 sacks (500 kg) of feeds

Making the design come to life

This restriction persuaded Mr. Diona to mechanize its feed manufacturing process. But instead of acquiring commercially available feed milling equipment, he opted to design his own machine. Despite not having enough technical expertise in machine fabrication, Mr. Diona pursued to a point where he had to ask directly from stores about a specific component by just demonstrating its functions.  The eagerness and perseverance of Mr. Diona helped him to accomplish his goal of designing the “Semi-automated Feed Milling Assembly”. Unlike other inventors, Mr. Diona does not have a blueprint or detailed drawings of his proposed invention.

The fabricated Semi-automated Feed Milling Assembly

Despite having a complete concept of his invention, the lack of capital deterred Mr. Diona from fabricating. He sought the assistance of DOST-MIMAROPA through DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) in 2016 which gave him the opportunity to support the fabrication of his designed feed milling equipment and acquire a 12-tonner corn mechanical dryer (Phase I).

Mr. Diona successfully fabricated the machine which helped his firm improve the quality of manufactured feeds and increase productivity from 840 bags per month to 2,449 bags. The newly-developed semi-automated feed milling assembly designed by Mr. Diona has five (5) major components namely: control panel, grinding section, sieving and mixing section, and discharge silo. This technology also eliminates the labor-intensive manual process of mixing and speed-up the manufacturing of feeds. In just 5 minutes, it can achieve efficient and uniform mixing, even small amounts, of feed ingredients such as vitamins and minerals with a capacity of 10 sacks (500 kilograms) per batch.

Determined to engage in mass production and to fulfill growing demand, Red Gate Farm Supplies again sought SETUP assistance (Phase II) from DOST-MIMAROPA. This time, Mr. Diona intends to enhance the performance of his feed milling assembly to accommodate 1 ton of feeds per batch. Upon completion of the project, the facility was able to produce approximately 4,230 bags per month.

3D Computer-aided Design (CAD) of the Semi-automated Feed Milling Assembly

Just like other ordinary inventors, Mr. Diona is unaware of how to protect the intellectual property of his invention. DOST-MIMAROPA enlightened Mr. Diona on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and guided him in registering his invention to IPOPHL. The patent application was endorsed to DOST’s Technology Application and Promotion Institute (DOST-TAPI) Intellectual Property Application Program (IPRAP) in 2021. After assessment by DOST-TAPI, the technology qualified for a Utility Model (UM) registration.

One of the innovative features of the newly-developed feed milling assembly is its centralized control system which makes the operation semi-automated and easier. It is also equipped with bucket-type elevators to convey raw materials to the feeding chambers (hopper) that eliminate the labor-intensive milling and mixing process. The UM registration fees for the technology were shouldered by DOST-TAPI through IPRAP which included the contracting a patent agent to furnish his application. As of January 2022, Mr. Diona is awaiting the release of the UM registration from IPOPHL.

Helping fellow MSMEs

With his ingenuity and willingness to help others, Mr. Diona also provides technical assistance to other MSMEs and CBEs in the province. He was also able to assist Agritektura Enterprises, an aquaculture farm, to centralize and automate its control system for aeration. He also designed and fabricated a feed dispenser that will facilitate automated feeding to its tilapia hatchery and grow-out ponds.

Mr. Diona showing the pre-fabricated feed dispenser for Agritektura Enterprises

He likewise lends his helping hand to the Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro (MMM), a group of corn farmers from Conrazon, Bansud. In 2021, MMM received technological assistance from DOST-MIMAROPA to address gaps in corn production. Mr. Diona initiated the design and fabrication the corn-sheller needed by the association. After several trial runs and improvements, Mr. Diona and the association thought that the machine performed better than commercially-available ones.

The fabricated corn-sheller designed by Mr. Diona for Maralitang Magsasaka ng Mindoro (MMM)

Mr. Diona also provided a space where a conference hall stands within their facility to hold trainings on feed production, swine, poultry raising, and utilizing biogas technology as alternate energy source for farmers in the province. These trainings have since provided farmers in the province with the necessary information and the understanding of proper practices to better operate and grow their businesses. These trainings are conducted regularly by Mr. Diona himself and at times, with the help of DOST-Oriental Mindoro personnel.

A forum on biogas technology for hog raisers in Socorro and Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro held at Red Gate Farm Supplies Conference Hall

Mr. Diona also intend to submit for IPR registration his other fabricated equipment once the UM for the semi-automated feed milling gets finalized.