QUEZON CITY, Jan. 27 (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has revealed that while a flatbed drier (FBD) is basically designed to dry palay, it can also be used to dry cassava.
Proof of which are the farmers in Quirino belonging to Abrasa Multi-Purpose Cooperative (AMPC) in Diffun who have been using their FBD efficiently and conveniently, since July 2010, in drying cassava even during rainy season, thus giving them sustained income, the DA said.
More importantly, the DA added, this system has encouraged them to expand the area planted 10-fold, from merely 20 hectares in 2008 to 200 hectares with plans to plant another 500 hectares this year.
The FBD was provided by the DA through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech).
They sell the dried cassava chips, used as an ingredient to animal feed, to San Miguel Corp. in Echague, Isabela.
With the FBD, the AMPC farmers now harvest cassava year-round, said DA-PhilMech Executive Director Ricardo L. Cachuela.
Previously, they only harvest after the rainy season, said Jomar Corpuz, AMPC operations manager.
With the FBD, they can now harvest anytime. Shrinkage is minimized, and drying cost is minimal as the drier is fed with biomass (crop by-products) as fuel, Corpuz said.
He said the AMPC buys fresh cassava from its members. The cassava is then cut into small pieces using a palay thresher. The pieces are then dried via the FBD, up to the desired 14 percent moisture content.
With more efficient drying operations, the cooperative delivers 100 metric tons of dried cassava regularly to the San Miguel Corp. plant in Echague, Isabela.
With more area planted to cassava, they can sell more dried cassava to SMC, giving the AMPC members more income.
Cachuela said the DA is promoting the increased production of cassava as a staple and an industrial crop for feed, flour and feedstock for alcohol.
He said DA-PhilMech is partnering with a local farm machinery manufacturer (Agricomponent Machinery and Construction Corp. in Cauayan City, Isabela) to develop a drying system for granulated cassava, used as animal feed ingredient. Said company is accredited by the DA-PhilMech and manufactures FBDs and multi-fuel biomass furnace. (DA/RJB/JCP-PIA NCR)