Thursday, August 05, 2010

Solar dryer for agri-fishery products pushed in the Philippines

NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 5, 2010) - An agricultural agency in Munoz City in Nueva Ecija province in northern Philippines is promoting the use of solar dryer for agriculture and fishery products.

Officials of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization said they are promoting the technology known as Multi-Commodity Solar Tunnel Dryer or MCSTD.

The technology is used as an alternative to traditional sun drying practices of small-scale producers. Sun drying lessens the product quality and allows dust, flies and other microorganisms to enter the commodities being dried.

According to PHilMech, “the MCSTD was adapted from the Hohenheim University in Germany. It was modified to fit in the needs of potential adopter and to maximize solar power in postharvest operations.”

The MCSTD has three major components, the heat collector, drying chamber and fan or blower. The heat collector and drying chamber are covered with UV stabilized polyethylene plastic sheets which prevents the entry of flies and dust in the commodity being dried.

The five small direct current axial fans serve as the blower. The flooring is made of corrugated G.I sheet which also serves as tray rack in the drying chamber. One of the early adopter of the MCSTD is the Kababaihang Masigla ng Nueva Ecija, processor of agricultural and fishery products based in Ilog Baliuag village in Nueva Ecija's Quezon town.

KMNE dries tomato, tamarind, kamias, karamay, ginger, and tilapia danggit known as tilanggit. They also have rice wine and rice coffee.

At present, the group also developed new products in powdered form and used these as condiments. These include malunggay, mushroom, squash, saluyot, and turmeric. They have also luyang dilaw which is known for its medicinal benefits.

Vilma B. Joson, president of KMNE said “the MCSTD is an answer to my prayers, it's a blessing for the group.”

“Our products are all fruits in season and my problem is how to store these products to meet the market demands and the only way to do it is through drying,” Joson said.

Using the technology the drying time was reduced by 50 percent. Usually, it takes three to four days to dry tilanggit and six to seven days to dry tamarind. Drying can be completed in one to two days for tilanggit and three to four days for tamarind. This can still be shortened depending also on the heat of the sun.

Joson said: “We have mechanical dryers but these are only used during rainy season. I still prefer the MCSTD over conventional dryers because it dries efficiently and hygienically, it has low operating cost, and with the MCSTD we are assured that there will be no wastage.”

Other commodities like mango, banana, cassava, and seafoods like shrimp, squid, anchovy, danggit and espada are also dried using the MCSTD by other PHilMech collaborators other than the KMNE.

At present, KMNE has already established market linkage not only in the provinces, but also in Metro Manila.

Recently, the group was cited as the Outstanding Small and Micro Enterprise in Nueva Ecija awarded by the One Town, One Product Philippines and Department of Trade and Industry-Nueva Ecija Provincial Office.

The KMNE will also serve as a social laboratory which will train people interested to engage in fruit and tilanggit processing. (Erwin S. Embuscado - Special to the Mindanao Examiner)

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