OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, August 24, 2022 – Cassava farmers of the Department of Agriculture – Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) Program received orientation for the Multi-Commodity Solar Tunnel Dryer (MCSTD) operation conducted by the DA – Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) for the effective utilization of the drying equipment awarded in May 2022.
The activity titled Technology Investment Briefing of Multi-Commodity Solar Tunnel Dryer (MCSTD) was conducted in two batches, which accommodated 52 SAAD farmers from Magsaysay, Rizal, Sta. Cruz, and Abra de Ilog who are beneficiaries of the Cassava Production Project from 2020.
The MCSTD is equipment introduced by DA-PhilMech harnessing solar energy to dry various commodities such as corn, cassava, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and certain species of fish in a faster, more hygienic way. It uses solar panels to power fan blades to speed up the drying process in an enclosed tunnel to prevent insects, bacteria, and other external factors, upgrading the quality of products compared to traditional solar drying.
The sessions were led by Mr. Danilo Briones, DA-PhilMech Project Leader and Science Research Specialist (SRS) II with Ms. Mary Grace Sadlazar, SRS I, and Mr. Renz Bernandino, SRS I. It covered the advantages of drying commodities using MCSTD, equipment maintenance, and marketing strategies using the solar dryer along with success stories of farmers from other provinces utilizing said technology.
The first batch was conducted in Magsaysay, training SAAD beneficiaries from said municipality and Rizal with six (6) representatives from each association, namely: Samahan ng Katutubong Ratagnon, Lupaing Ninuno (SAKARALUNI), Calachuchi Indigenous Farmers Association (CIFA), Iraya Matabiaga Cassava Farmers Association, and Samahan ng Katutubong Buhid Sitio Albunan 1.
The second batch of training was held in Abra de Ilog, capacitating cassava farmers in Abra de Ilog and Sta. Cruz – Mal-Anggatan Tanuman Orayan sa Mamangan FA, Sagip-Saka Farmers Association, and Bigkis Farmers Association.
Beneficiaries are encouraged to pursue continuous product development, particularly cassava by-products, using the solar dryer to maximize their harvest and increase income.
An on-site visit was also conducted in Sito Calachuchi, Brgy. Alibog, Magsaysay for the first batch and in Brgy. Cabacao for the second batch as these areas are more accessible for physical on-site demonstration, where the DA-PhilMech team inspected the solar dryers’ conditions. Mr. Briones encouraged the farmers to fortify the legs of the solar dryers using cement for extra stability and longevity as there are solar dryers built on bare land.
The associations cultivate a cumulative area of 79 hectares dedicated to cassava production and are expected to harvest in March 2023. Farmers use the root crop for food consumption while most of their produce is processed into dried and chipped cassava and sold in bulks to assemblers in the province.
SAAD Program provided cassava planting materials, draft animals, farm tools, and equipment including an MCSTD to each association to boost their production under cassava production projects FY 2020 and 2021 worth Php 13,028,000.00. ###
Writer: Dianne Francis A. Sy-Gorembalem, SAAD MIMAROPA Information Officer
Mario S. Paz, Jr. – SAAD Area Coordinator – Rizal
Vilmar J. Robes – SAAD Area Coordinator – Magsaysay
Luther Lariosa, Jr. – SAAD MIMAROPA Project Development Officer I