Provision of Rural Renewable Energy Systems to Agricultural Crop Drying in the Philippines

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The current efforts of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) in the provision of rural renewable systems to agricultural crop drying are presented. First example the Hohenheim-developed solar tunnel dryer is gaining widespread adoption by small-scale rural enterprises for drying and marketing local fruits, vegetables and fishery products. Promotion and adoption of the technology by prospective rural entrepreneurs is accelerated through the social laboratory technology-transfer model. Social laboratories are financially viable, innovative, dynamic and socially responsive technology-based enterprises by which prospective technology users gain access to information and innovations, through actual observation, technology demonstration, training, coaching and mentoring, business advice and other business development services necessary for the growth and development of enterprises. Secondly, several biomass fueled furnaces for mechanical dryers of agricultural crops such as rice, corn, cassava and cocoa have been successfully developed, commercialized, promoted and adopted. The use of readily-available biomass fuels significantly reduces the cost of drying in the rural areas. These include direct- and indirect-fired furnaces that have been retrofitted to 6-10 tons capacity fixed-bed and recirculating batch dryers for paddy and shelled maize. To date, more than 2,000 fixed-bed dryers with direct-fired biomass furnaces have been distributed to farmer-organizations nationwide. Likewise, more than 300 recirculating batch dryers originally with petrol-based burners have been retrofitted with indirect-fired biomass furnaces.

Biomass furnaces have been incorporated to 10 ton capacity two-stage maize drying systems – drying maize in cobs during the first stage using a batch dryer, shelling the semi-dried maize in cobs, and then drying the shelled maize in recirculating batch dryer for the second stage. Likewise, a commercial-scale belt-type dryer with biomass furnace is currently being pilot-tested for drying cassava chips. The dryer is rated at input capacity of 1-ton per hour. After pilot-testing, fifteen similar dryers are scheduled to be built towards the end of the year and pilot-demonstrated to key cassava production areas nationwide. Finally, for drying of cocoa beans, two types of dryers with renewable energy heat sources are currently being developed, namely, a 400 kg capacity solar-tunnel dryer with hybrid biomass furnace and solar collector, and an 800-kg capacity fixed-bed dryer with biomass furnace.

Further Information

Contact the author Romualdo Martinez for further information.