PhilMech sets commercialization of four technologies

GOING by his battlecry that all studies of the Philippine Center for Mechanization and Postharvest Development (PhilMech) will be “short induration but high on impact,” PhilMech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing has set the commercialization next year of four key technologies developed from the research activities of the agency.

“The four key researches have all been finished and the next logical step is to commercialize the technologies from these researches next year for the benefit of various stakeholders,” he said.

The four key technologies are: mechanical cassava drying;pectin from mango peels; using Combined Far-Infrared and Convection Heating (FIRCH) to dry mango slices; and use of natural or biocontrol treatment for pest control. The Department of Science and Technology cooperated with PhilMech in the development of the technologies deriving pectin from mango.

PhilMech will set for commercialization next year cassavadrying technology, which will help boost the production of the crop. Cassava is one of the priority crops under the Department of Agriculture’s Food Staples Sufficiency Program to help the country achieve 100% food self- sufficiency.

Bingabing said that PhilMech has developed two dedicated cassava drying machines: a conveyor-belt type machine with a biomass furnace that could dry granulated cassava to a moisture content (MC) of 13% in 2.5 hours; and a modified flatbed drier with a mixer that could dry cassava to the same MC level in 12 hours.

“The drying technology alone will have big impact on dried cassava production, since granulated cassava is traditionally dried under the sun over concrete pavement or roads, which takes 2 to 3 days in good weather,” Bingabing said.

He added that if newly harvested and granulated cassava is not dried immediately, this could result in losses of up to 13%, while drying under the sun could expose cassava to elements that could cause fungi infection.

Bingabing said that PhilMech has also modified existing rice moisture meters for use to determine the MC of granulated cassava.

“The modified moisture meter will help cassava farmers achieve the optimum level of MC that buyers of granulated cassava want,” he said.

Dried granulated cassava is usually bought by large food companies like San Miguel Corp. for use as feed ingredient.

For the manufacture of pectin from mango peels, Bingabing said that PhilMech will establish a manufacturing prototype at the agency’s main office in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, that could be viewed and studied by prospective businessmen or investors.

“The country imports 100% of its pectin needs, and by fully commercializing the technology developed by PhilMech and the Industrial Technology Development Institute of DOST, we could start establishing domestic firms that could gradually supply the pectin needs of the Philippine market,” he said.

The third technology PhilMech will push for commercialization next year is the use of FIRCH to dry mango slices.

At present, food processors use convection heating to dry mango slices, which requires 12 hours. On the other hand, the FIRCH technology only requires 8 hours of total drying time, which results to 17% savings in energy, and 32% reduction in overall costs.

Sliced dried mangoes are one of the leading processed food exports of the Philippines, comprising 10% of the $35-million mango exports in 2010.

The fourth technology that PhilMech will set for commercialization next year arebiocontrol treatment for use in pest control in farming applications.

Among the biocontrol treatments PhilMech researchers developed is the combined use of a biocontrol agent and hot water treatment to reduce stem-rot and anthracnose infection in mangoes. Mangoes can be sprayed with chemical fungicide before undergoing hot water treatment, but this could have consequences on people’s health.

Bingabing said that the biocontrol agent to control the stem-rot and anthracnose infection in mangoes can also be applied to other tropical fruits like papaya and banana.

PhilMech researchers also discovered that the native plants Bituon, Bangbangsit, Anobrand, Hagonoy and Bayating have fungal and insecticidal extracts.

Bingabing said that PhilMech’s research into the use of antagonistic fungi to control the dreaded banana crown rot will also be commercialized next year, citing that initial efforts to have that technology commercialized were hounded by patent issues.

“We want to make sure that the technologies pioneered by PhilMech will be protected by Intellectual Property Rights,” he said.

The PhilMech director added that in commercializing the biocontrol agents, the agency will market or sell the active ingredients which could be readily used by stakeholders.

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